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By Jane Rule

The essays during this inspiring assortment examine the craft of writing and the artwork of dwelling and loving Jane Rule stocks her insights into the artistic approach, sexual constancy, feminist politics, and the transformative strength of affection. half I & mdash; & ldquo;On Writing & rdquo; & mdash;dispenses recommendation (writing is & ldquo;a craft that needs to be practiced & rdquo;); deals observations (& ldquo;The artistic method in  Read more...

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Anaïs Nin, for example, stood in such awe of the novel that her own are often painfully self-conscious and artificial. Only in her diaries, which for years she considered a vice, was she free to express her real perceptions and insights. Violette Leduc, after years of disguising her life in fiction, made her mature works by translating her earlier novels back into autobiography. The value of both these brilliant contributions to autobiographical literature is in the extraordinary candor of personal analysis and confession.

It is not, for the most part, an education in overt sexual behavior. Basically we distinguish between boys and girls to indicate to them which group will be expected to overthrow the authority of adults and take their place and which group will be expected to submit to that authority all their lives except as they act it out on the children of the next generation. Probably in most cases we first perceive our fictional characters as male or female. Sometimes I may have question marks in early notebooks beside the sexes of children, but my adult characters present themselves to me first as men or women, heterosexual or homosexual, to be filled in and out from there.

Otherwise writing a novel would be impossible. In much the same way that any speaker of the language knows how to make subject and verb agree without thinking about it, a writer must develop higher and higher automatic skills so that a choice of sentence structure is rarely mistaken even the first time, so that the dozens of minor technical choices involved in each scene can be made almost without thought. The questions for the beginning writer are often ones too mundane for any teacher of literature ever to raise: how do I stop my characters talking and get into the narrative voice again?

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