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Before We Get Started

A Practical Memoir of the Writer's Life

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eBook published by Ballantine Books (Random House Publishing Group)

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About This Book
This marvelous guide begins where other books on writing and the writing life leave off. Delving deep into the creative process, Bret Lott reveals truths we scarcely realized we needed to know but without which we as writers will soon lose our way. In ten intimate essays based on his own experiences and on the seasoned wisdom of writers including Eudora Welty, E. B. White, Henry David Thoreau, Henry James, and John Gardner, Lott explores such topics as

• why write? why keep writing?
• the importance of simple words
• the finer points of character detail
• narrative and the passage of time
• the pitfalls of technique
• making a plan–and letting it go
• risking failure–and reaping the benefits
• Accepting rejection

Writers travel alone, but Bret Lott’s book makes the journey less lonely and infinitely more rewarding. Before We Get Started will help you make your work as good as it can be: “Pay attention recklessly. Strain to see through the window of your own artistic consciousness in the exhilarating knowledge that there is no path to the waterfall, and there are a million paths to the waterfall, and there is, too, only one path: yours.”


From the Trade Paperback edition.
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This marvelous guide begins where other books on writing and the writing life leave off. Delving deep into the creative process, Bret Lott reveals truths we scarcely realized we needed to know but without which we as writers will soon lose our way. In ten intimate essays based on his own experiences and on the seasoned wisdom of writers including Eudora Welty, E. B. White, Henry David Thoreau, Henry James, and John Gardner, Lott explores such topics as

• why write? why keep writing?
• the importance of simple words
• the finer points of character detail
• narrative and the passage of time
• the pitfalls of technique
• making a plan–and letting it go
• risking failure–and reaping the benefits
• Accepting rejection

Writers travel alone, but Bret Lott’s book makes the journey less lonely and infinitely more rewarding. Before We Get Started will help you make your work as good as it can be: “Pay attention recklessly. Strain to see through the window of your own artistic consciousness in the exhilarating knowledge that there is no path to the waterfall, and there are a million paths to the waterfall, and there is, too, only one path: yours.”


From the Trade Paperback edition.
Product Details
eBook (224 pages)
Published: August 10, 2011
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Imprint: Ballantine Books
ISBN: 9780307804808
Other books byBret Lott
  • Dead Low Tide

    Dead Low Tide
    A Novel
    In this long-awaited sequel to The Hunt Club, set in the swampy South Carolina Lowcountry, New York Times bestselling author Bret Lott returns with a literary page-turner about murder and family secrets. Though Dead Low Tide continues the story of Huger Dillard, this haunting work of fiction brilliantly stands on its own. No longer a teenager and now a young man, Huger must come to terms with and confront the truth about his community, his past, and the mysterious place he calls home. While most of the residents in the wealthy, historic Charleston enclave of Landgrave Hall are asleep at two-thirty in the morning, Huger Dillard and his father, “Unc,” are heading, via jonboat, to the adjoining golf course. Blinded by a terrible accident that killed his wife, Unc prefers to practice his golf game when no one is watching. But before anyone can even tee off, Huger makes a grisly find: a woman’s body, anchored deep in the mud at the water’s low tide. The discovery sets off a chain of events that puts Huger and his family up against secret military forces, old friends, longtime neighbors, lost loves, and shadowy global networks. The only thing connecting them all is Landgrave Hall—and the treacherous reason why this area is so important to so many people. From the Hardcover edition.

    Jewel

    Jewel
    In the backwoods of Mississippi, a land of honeysuckle and grapevine, Jewel and her husband, Leston, are truly blessed; they have five fine children. When Brenda Kay is born in 1943, Jewel gives thanks for a healthy baby, last-born and most welcome. Jewel is the story of how quickly a life can change; how, like lightning, an unforeseen event can set us on a course without reason or compass. In this story of a woman's devotion to the child who is both her burden and God's singular way of smiling on her, Bret Lott has created a mother-daughter relationship of matchless intensity and beauty, and one of the finest, most indomitable heroines in contemporary American fiction.

    A Song I Knew by Heart

    A Song I Knew by Heart
    A Novel
    “And Ruth said,‘ Entreat me not to leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God.’” —Ruth 1:16 During a cold Massachusetts winter, a man’s car fatally skids on black ice, leaving a mother childless and her daughter-in-law a widow. Naomi and Ruth, bound together as kin, are now each other’s only comfort. Naomi lost her own husband, Eli, eight years ago, and now she has lost her son. Watching Ruth struggle through grief, Naomi suddenly realizes what she must do to make herself whole again: She must return to her childhood home in coastal South Carolina. There, she remembers, was the innocence of youth and first falling in love. But when she tells Ruth about her plan, she receives an unexpected reply: “Where you go, I will go. Where you live, that’s where I’ll live too.” So the two women plan the journey together. The only family Naomi has down South are in-laws, people she hasn’t seen in decades, having kept in touch over the years only through annual Christmas cards. But when she phones, apprehensively, to tell them of her plan, they welcome her with openness and warmth. Arriving at a home full of sons and daughters and grandchildren, Naomi and Ruth are flooded with a love they are nearly too fragile to accept. Yet Naomi carries a deep secret in her soul—and not even this change of scenery can erase its dark shadow. As the long Southern days seep into their hearts, both she and Ruth begin to find themselves reawakened. And as the love of her newfound family and her enduring bond with Ruth prove themselves stronger than sin, stronger than heartache, redemption finds Naomi once and for all. A Song I Knew by Heart is about the healing power of family—in particular, the bond between a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law. As Ruth and Naomi share their individual sorrows, together they find an uncommon strength. The pages of Bret Lott’s deeply moving novel flow with a lilting beauty that is as heartrending and as restorative as the relationship at its center. From the Hardcover edition.

    The Hunt Club

    The Hunt Club
    In this lyrically written, hauntingly seductive novel, Bret Lott brings to life the beauty and flavor of the mist-covered swamps and backlands of South Carolina's Lowcountry in a story that is both mystery and rite of passage. At fifteen, Huger ("you say it YOU-gee") Dillard already knows a great deal about the ways of the world--or so he thinks. He may not have a father, but with the guidance of his blind "Unc," Leland, and weekends spent at the Hunt Club--a tract of woods and swamp belonging to his family--Huger knows all about the land and the habits of its wildlife, from deer to the pompous Charleston doctors and lawyers who come to hunt them. But nothing can prepare him for the dark events that begin to unfold when he and Unc stumble upon the body of a well-to-do Charleston regular on their land. Who wanted him dead? And why is the Hunt Club suddenly at the heart of a dark secret worth killing for? Caught in a treacherous labyrinth that stretches deep into the past, Huger and everyone he loves are about to discover painful truths that will irrevocably change them; truths that will shatter a young boy's innocence and test him as a man.

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