thoughts on becoming a better writer

I debated a bit before posting January’s Thinking About quote. Not because I thought it was inconsistent with the idea of Peopled Places or controversial or anything like that. No, my concern had to do with writing. Through this blog I’m pushing myself to become a writer. John Edgar Wideman is one. His novel Sent For You Yesterday, one of my favorites, won the P.E.N./Faulkner Award for fiction in 1984. The P.E.N./Faulkner Award “honors the best work of fiction published by an American in a single calendar year.”

What does Sent For You Yesterday have to do with people or places? Everything. Wideman’s writing illustrates (yes, that’s the right word) the day-to-day life and times of people living on Cassina Way, a street among many in the community of Homewood which as Wideman says is

a world apart from Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh was the North, a world apart from the South, and all those people crowded in Cassina Way carried the seeds of these worlds inside their skins, black, brown and gold and ivory skin which was the first world setting them apart.

You know, I don’t know if Homewood or Cassina Way are real or not. I’ve never bothered to look either up. But the way Wideman tells the story, I feel that I can see this place and the people living there.

I don’t imagine I’ll ever win an award for my writing but I do strive to write better. And it’s good to have writers like Wideman point the way.

Where do you find your literary inspiration?

The Library is a recurring series on the books that confirm, challenge or otherwise inform the Peopled Places point of view.

Sent for You Yesterday


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