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A Distilled Look at The Secret Miracle

Last night I began to make my way through The Secret Miracle: The Novelist’s Handbook, edited by Daniel Alarcon.

(This is the fourth of five books I ordered from my second-favorite educational non-profit organization, 826National, which supports eight writing, tutoring, and publishing centers across the United States. The subscription is called “Five Books, Five Authors,” and I’m already saving $250 for next year, if they repeat it. Every month, January through May, they send a signed copy of an excellent book from one of the writers associated with the organization. Few things in 2010 have stirred in me such consistent anticipation and joy as the padded envelope from 826National.I strongly suggest you find a way to support this program: start by buying The Secret Miracle.)

The Secret Miracle is not, to my mind, a book to sit down and read cover to cover. It’s snippets of observations on the writing process from dozens of wonderful authors, some of whom you know already and others who will be utterly new and refreshing to you. It’s different than any book you have in your collection.

Thus, I propose a post different from any other on this site. I am determined to read every word of this book, but I’ll attack in small pieces. All the way through, I’ll share the ones that ring truest to me on this post, one update at a time. I invite you to add to the post through your comments. If you have your own copy of The Secret Miracle, add the selections you think I’ve neglected; if you have tidbits from authors not included in this book, post them here; if these quotes stir something in you, place it here. This whole site is intended to be an open forum, but I hope this will be the most interactive post yet.

So far, I’ve only read Alarcon’s introduction to the book, so I’ll start the conversation with a selection from that:

        "Novels are written in dialogue with other novels, and this conversation can be a shouting match or a whispered confessional or something in between. It can be joyful or torturous, and no single voice in this book will describe your experience or your relationship to your own writing. That's not the point. The goal of this book is simply to provide a glimpse into the way others approach the same task. Perhaps their combined knowledge and experience will have something to offer you. I sincerely hope so." - Daniel Alarcon, pgs. 7-8

If you’re a writer, you surely must be a reader. I hope you’ll spend a little time here, reading, writing, and engaging in dialogue with other readers and writers among you.

By the Way...

Think Like a Dog