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Polly Dugan Recommends...

Writers Recommend

Posted 6.26.14

“Earlier this year while I was finishing my novel, I was reading Dani Shapiro’s wonderful book, Still Writing. I swear every page was like another delicious choice in an intellectual, emotional, and creative buffet. I especially love the section on 'Shimmer,' which is what Shapiro calls the unmistakable, indelible epiphany a writer has when she discovers her subject matter. Shapiro says: ‘We must learn to watch for these moments. To not discount them. To take note: I’ll have to write about this.’ When I’ve been fortunate enough to experience this kind of creative energy, I’ll pluck the spark from wherever it comes: a song lyric, a situation or moment or character that takes root in my mind, a minor detail someone has shared with me in a completely different context than where I put it in my work. At my luckiest, I feel mostly like a harried but devoted transcriptionist, following my characters around so as not to miss anything they say or do. But when that energy, that magic, is absent, I have a very tough time writing. More than once I’ve resorted to staying in the chair for a specific and painful amount of time only to write very exaggerated, purple, really lamentable prose. In the end, it makes me laugh, and forces me to cut myself a break and realize that although it may be a purposely false start, it’s a start nonetheless.”
—Polly Dugan, author of So Much a Part of You (Little, Brown and Company, 2014)

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