Berg's publishing career began in her mid-thirties when she won first prize in an essay contest sponsored by Parents magazine. That auspicious beginning led to hundreds of feature stories, essays, interviews and humor pieces-and the desire to write a novel.
Now, fifteen years later, she's written seven wonderful novels. And that is more than enough reason to listen carefully to the advice she offers for writers in Escaping Into the Open. Berg's principles are simple: "Find your own voice and believe in it"; "Relax"; "If you want to ride, stay on the horse." There is some information here that can be found elsewhere; then again, she includes recipes ("Food for Creative Thought") that you're unlikely to find in any other writing guide. In all, it's a practical, warm and encouraging invitation to the writing life.
Meanwhile, Berg's latest novel, Until The Real Thing Comes Along, concerns Patty Ann Murphy, a woman who makes her emotional commitments quickly and irrevocably-whether she's choosing houses, best friends or men. She's funny, charming, a little insecure and totally loyal. Patty's in her mid-thirties as this novel begins and afraid her biological clock is starting to wind down. The problem is she's still single and there's no solution in sight because Ethan, the man she has always loved, is gay.
Berg's best strength, of an endless array, is her seemingly effortless movement from one character's perspective to another. Whether it's a gay man fleeing the relentless AIDS deaths of friends by trying to will himself straight or the loving husband who tries to maintain a cheerful front while caring for his Alzheimer's-stricken wife, Berg presents authentic people with an ease and honesty that is breathtaking.
Elizabeth Berg has shown herself to be an author of astonishing talent. What is even more astonishing is the generosity with which she now shares her insights and wisdom on the process of writing.
While this book will make its way into classrooms across the country, its biggest classroom is the invisible one: someone sitting at a desk or a kitchen table trying to write but not knowing how. Elizabeth Berg's book is as close as you can get to having someone sitting right there with you, giving you quietly wonderful tips.
Crystal clear, bracing as icewater, Escaping into the Open should be read by all scribblers regardless of material success.
As a writer Elizabeth Berg hit the ground running. Her very helpful advice to would-be authors is the equivalent of a good pair of track shoes. She knows how the publishing industry works, how sentences work, and why writers need to answer only to themselves. Atlantic Monthly
Elizabeth Berg's writing exercises are wonderfully inventive. They capture the play and pleasures of writing. Her book is an insightful guide.
I'm grateful as can be for having Escaping into the Open. It's part of my library now, and I'm recommending it to anyone with the slightest urge to writeit tells it as it is.
All the qualities that I have loved in [Elizabeth Berg's] fiction are here in great, generous dollops: intimacy, honesty and humor, and that feeling that you are hanging out with your best friend who is confiding amazing stories to you. I would recommend this book to anyone in the grip of the writing muse.
If your dream is to be a "Writer" with a capital "W," we're pleased to recommend Escaping into the Open: The Art of Writing True, a wonderful new guide by gifted novelist Elizabeth Berg (Talk Before Sleep, Joy School.Imagine that a bestselling author was available to give you encouragement and practical advicethat's exactly what you'll find here. The key to writing that works, according to Berg, is finding your authentic voice so that you can write from the heart. You'll be inspired by her own story as well as the creative exercises she provides.If you've always wanted to write, but were afraid to get started, Berg will have you at your desk, pen in hand, soon after you finish her first chapter.
July is a busy month for Berg. She's publishing a new novel with Random called Until the Real Thing Comes Along (see Prepub Alert, LJ 3/1/99) and also this writer's guide, which explains how she got from working mother to best-selling novelist.