cover image Out of Silence, Sound. Out of Nothing, Something: A Writer’s Guide

Out of Silence, Sound. Out of Nothing, Something: A Writer’s Guide

Susan Griffin. Counterpoint, $16.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-64009-410-9

Essayist and poet Griffin (The Book of the Courtesans) offers an elegant guide to the art of writing. Structuring the book around what she describes as the three parts of a writer’s process—“before the beginning,” writing, and “the means to an end”—Griffin dispenses advice on both nurturing inspiration and crafting sentences and paragraphs. Griffin encourages readers to find ideas by paying attention to their thoughts, to establish a regular writing schedule, and to read what they’ve written aloud. Trying out new techniques is a great way to learn, she suggests, even if they fail, and she notes that in writing, “anything goes. As long as you don’t bore yourself.” Sections titled “How I Learned to Write” appear throughout and add up to an illuminating memoir of her life in literature, which started when she first attempted writing a novel at 10 years old. Griffin stresses the importance of letting one’s mind wander, and even her technical instructions are delivered in lyrical prose: “Including two transitions, even if one seems like a stage whisper, facilitates perception. Perhaps because a weave is always made of more than one thread.” These pearls of wisdom will be a boon to novice writers. Agent: Andy Ross, Andy Ross Literary. (Jan.)