One Writer‘s Beginnings by Eudora Welty (1983. Harvard. ISBN 067463927-8)

I always love to read what inspires other writers past and present, how they write, where their ideas come from, and so forth. I am not an English major. I do not possess an MFA in Creative Writing. I am a self-taught author who relies upon years of reading great and not-so-great novels and short fiction, personal experiences, and the words of genius that I do not possess to teach me how to tell my stories. In the past, I’ve read books on these topics by Stephen King, Anne Dillard, Anne Lamont, and a host of other well-known writers. Because Eudora Welty is one of my favorite short story writers, when I came across this title, I knew I needed to read it. I ordered my copy from Zenith Bookstore and over the course of a couple of days spent on my front porch, a place any writer from the South would likely love, I dove in.

This is really more of a memoir than it is a “how to” script on fiction writing. That said, there’s great value for any would be writer in studying Welty’s personal history as told by the author. I was one of those folks who tried, as a young writer (junior high, high school, and college) to spin yarns out of whole cloth; meaning, by complete fabrication and invention. Of plot. Of character. And yes, even of place. Hemingway’s writing was the first place I understood, in my late twenties, that fiction writing is not fabrication of story without reference to the writer’s own experiences, encounters, and life. Welty takes that principle, fiction writer as synthesizer and collector, and explains, in curt and easy to understand terms, how every fiction writer worth his or her salt borrows from life to create stories that compel and resonate. She intersperses her own life story with the invented lives and characters and settings that permeate her fictional work and does so in a way that is both expository and entertaining.

As stated in the headline, at 104 ages of nicely posited prose, I’d give this thin read five stars but for one flaw: It’s far too short!

4 and 1/2 stars out of 5.

Peace

Mark

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