More Testimonials, page 2
I love this book so much, and it has been of such inspiration to me, that I did not know where to start in reviewing it. I had to set that concern aside in order to begin.
The truth about The Story Within is that, if you want to write, you can open this book to any page and be lifted up by what you find there.
Many `how to write' books have been published in the last 30 years and I believe I've read most of them but none were as effective as Oliver's book in demonstrating inspired writing and inspired insights about writing. She doesn't just tell you how to do it she shows you the transformative power of fine writing by letting flow her own unique voice and never letting it waver or diminish in potency.
Opening the book at random just now I find Chapter 13. Character and the Cargo Hold: Using the Past. I had underlined the following:
"The sibling who protected you from bullies, the friend who saved you from isolation, the teacher who saw into your soul, all contributed to who you became. But so did the coach who humiliated you, the girlfriend who deceived you, the roommate who betrayed you. We just don't like to think about these influences. We tend to file them away quickly and move on. But their impact remains, and with it their potential to serve our writing. When you learn how to use the memories you would rather avoid, you may find they hold some of your most important material. The story only you can tell is most likely the story you need to write."
If you think you have a story to tell but don't know how to tell it, or you wish you had a story to tell but think you do not, there is something in The Story Within for you.
Beautifully written, honest and funny, Ms. Oliver's book is as much a guide for readers as it is for writers. My well-annotated copy will live on my nightstand long after I land my book contract or, alternatively, long after I am disabused of the notion I can write. The Story Within is about the beauty and wonder and heartbreak of living. Ms. Oliver provides inspiration and specific direction in savoring and sharing that experience.
Oh, and did I mention it's funny?
The Story Within has been a huge help to me recently. My progress on the sequel to Code Word Paternity had slowed to a crawl and I was really struggling. I decided to re-read your book and bingo—Chapter Five, Navigating a Story got me going again. Among other things I realized I was trying to stick to a map instead of following the story’s own momentum. Now I’m open to diversions and thoughts and words are flowing again.
I took a writing workshop last semester with Laura Oliver,Writing Life Stories. As there were no course evaluation forms to fill out at semester's end, I just wanted to let the program director(s) know how much I appreciated and valued Laura Oliver's course. She is such a talented and insightful teacher of writing, and she was so well prepared and organized each week. I learned so much! As an instructor myself, I understand how much work and thought go into course preparation, the reading of learners' work, and the leading of discussions. I feel very fortunate to have had her as an instructor, and want to express my appreciation to St. John's College for such a strong program offering.
(Professor Emerita of French, Dept. of Languages and Cultures, U.S. Naval Academy)