August 16, 2010

Main Street

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I read Sinclair Lewis' Main Street (1920) one year ago, and I can easily say that it was the book that got me roving down this "flyover land" road. It filled me with so many thoughts. Many times I wanted to reach into Lewis' Sauk Centre grave and shake the man awake, ask him if his Minnesota hometown was really that bad. Other times, I had to stay quiet, admit that his less-than-glowing observations were (from my own small-town experience) spot on.

It's an interesting and important question for a writer: what do you choose to show? I guess, if you're honest, the best answer is "all of it." But we each see the world so differently. The moment you stop writing for yourself, you are bound to get something for someone else wrong.

So, just tell the truth, then, in the ways you know how: an image, an emotion, a character, one word after another.

I've always thought of you, Mr. Lewis, as the sullen boy at the back of the classroom, and I doubt if we'd have had much comfort between us. But I thank you for your book. Because even though you're long gone, your words still make me think over important things in a way a lot of other people's don't.

MinnPost - 80 years after Nobel Prize, Sauk Centre remembers Sinclair Lewis

2 comments:

  1. Emily -
    Have you read "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance"? Robert Persig talks a lot about writing — in one of his parables about helping a student to write, he suggests that she pick and extremely narrow subject; like one brick on the facade of a building downtown. She goes to the coffeeshop across the street from it and writes like the wind.

    I learned from that and found narrowly focusing on singular objects, like the photo of the you commented on on my blog. When you focus your mind on only one thing, like meditating to a candle flame, your thoughts clear and you can see very clearly.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting on my blog. Be well, do good work, and keep in touch...
    - Mitch


    http://www.mitchster.com/2010/08/17/milkweed-on-the-shore/

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  2. Mitch: "ZAMM" has been on my to-read list for quite a while, but with your recommendation I'll get to it sooner rather than later. A narrow focus: great advice.

    Thanks for bopping over. Loved your summer flowers photo today!

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