Writing anyway…

stoweWhile preparing for my library talk about Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, I made a number of discoveries, many of them about my own process. So, in no particular order:

1. No matter how busy and overwhelmed I was on various other projects, doing a small amount of work every day toward the library book-talk helped.

2. Fussing and fuming about having not started earlier was not helpful. If only for five or ten minutes, doing a bit of work was a better way to spend my time than fussing and fuming.

3. When I was really, really stuck, opening a document on my computer and typing a list of possible topics was a great  strategy.

4. Putting together a slide show of pictures around the five or six biggest topics also helped. Audiences like pictures. (So do I.)

5. Rereading the novel (even though I didn’t have time to finish rereading it) helped enormously. In fact, opening the book and reading a few pages was a great way to put aside the fussing and fuming (again) about not having enough time.

6. I already know a huge amount about 19th century literary studies, which is, after all, the context I wanted to set this novel within. Once I had a list of topics, and had decided which ones were the most important, I had no trouble talking for an hour.  The worry wasn’t merely unhelpful, it wasn’t necessary.

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) had seven children in 1852 when Uncle Tom’s Cabin was published. Yes, I presume she had household help. Yes, she said that she didn’t write it (God wrote it; she just took dictation). Even so, she had plenty of excuses not to write, and she picked up her pen and wrote anyway. stowe%20house%20front

0 replies
  1. Carolynne Harris
    Carolynne Harris says:

    Yes it is: A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. New American Standard Bible (©1995)

    • awritersalchemy
      awritersalchemy says:

      Carolynne, thank you for sharing this quote. I hadn’t heard it in a long time. I have this sense of the golden apples (actual apples, like the Transparents that grew in the orchard of my childhood) against the silver. It makes me hungry for such fit words.


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