"Insightful . . . Griffin is a notably practical guide. No aspect of her work is too minor to mention, and when she drops the name of a famous friend, it serves her larger purpose: to explain what it takes to craft a good short story, a publishable poem or even a book . . . Her advice on routine is direct and implementable . . . An excellent place to start. " —Kevin Canfield, San Francisco Chronicle
"An elegant guide to the art of writing . . . An illuminating memoir of her life in literature . . . These pearls of wisdom will be a boon to novice writers." —Publishers Weekly
"Griffin takes a Zen-like approach to generating, constructing, and honing a piece of writing. In serene meditations, she reflects on topics such as silence, focus, reading, the need for solitude, and the power of attentiveness to one’s surroundings and feelings . . . Warm reassurance from a veteran writer." —Kirkus Reviews
"Susan Griffin shares her many insights into the phenomenon of writing with a clarity and feeling that can open doors to the new writer or deepen the experience for those already writing. A must read for anyone about to take pen in hand, or put hand to keyboard." ––Leonard Pitt, author and theatre artist
"Susan Griffin’s books have been, quite literally, life-changing for me, fundamental to my understanding of the world and my place in it. She is a brilliant thinker and an exquisitely beautiful writer. If you want to learn the craft of writing, I can think of no better teacher. Out of Silence, Sound. Our of Nothing, Something. is clear and inviting for beginning writers and has smart and nuanced advice for those far along in their careers, along with inspiring stories and quotes from beloved artists and writers, and throughout Susan Griffin’s reliable wisdom and deep belief in the creativity that is rooted inside every one of us. I’ve dog-eared half the pages of my copy and will be recommending this book to every aspiring and accomplished writer I know!" ––Ellen Bass, author of Indigo
"Beautifully organized, lucidly written, Susan Griffin's Out of Silence, Sound, Out of Nothing, Something., is destined to become an inspiring guide for creative writing classes and for creative writers on their own, at the laptop or in the library." ––Sandra M. Gilbert, coauthor of Still Mad, and The Madwoman in the Attic
"Susan Griffin has given us a guide to the magical music of words and meaning. She walks with us, regaling us with stories and quotes from writers she loves, and shares what she has alchemically distilled over a lifetime of writing, reading and teaching: a precious elixir, as if gently pressed from thousands of roses." ––Former Editor of Mother Jones Mag and Lecturer at UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism
"With her signature gifts of insight, skill, and subtlety, Susan Griffin simultaneously de-mystifies and elevates the art of creative writing. Relevant across all genres and levels of experience, this book is so practical and elegant, so intelligent and essential—I can’t wait to share it with every writer I know." ––Elizabeth Rosner, author of Survivor Café: The Legacy of Trauma and the Labyrinth of Memory
"Out of Silence, Sound. Out of Nothing, Something. is a gorgeous, uncanny book that goes to the heart of why and how we write. It is, yes, a guide, but like all of Susan Griffin’s work, it turns on the wisdom and sensibility of a philosopher poet. I’ll recommend it to every writer I know, every student I teach, anyone who leans across a table and whispers, 'What I really want to do is write.'" ––Honor Moore, author of Our Revolution: A Mother and Daughter at Midcentury
"Susan Griffin has written a book for all of us who write or want to write or wish they could begin writing again. Out of Silence, Sound. Out of Nothing, Something. is more than a guide—it is an oracle: wise, instructive, and revelatory like all of Griffin's landmark books from Women and Nature to Wrestling With The Angel of Democracy. I close my eyes, open a random page, and take that as my assignment. The heading 'Sentences' appears: 'Sentences are like rivers. They flow, move you to tears, bring you to see, or simply mirror the movement of life.' I then begin to write my own. On another day, 'Closing the Circle' is my pick: 'A circle we are relieved to see rise most mornings. Another circle rises at night . . . we are all on a circular journey.' Susan Griffin describes the writing life perfectly and offers us the depth of her experience and philosophy on the page. Out of Silence, Sound. Out of Nothing, Something. is full of literary references and astute advice from one of our most brave and accomplished writers. Both a tutorial and a gift, we are inspired to grow, risk more, and play as we perfect our craft. My well-marked copy now resides on my desk." ––Terry Tempest Williams, author of Erosion: Essays on Undoing
How to nurture creativity.
Aiming to offer a “kind and gentle” writing guide, Griffin, author of 22 books, takes a Zen-like approach to generating, constructing, and honing a piece of writing. In serene meditations, sometimes less than half a page long, she reflects on topics such as silence, focus, reading, the need for solitude, and the power of attentiveness to one’s surroundings and feelings. Throughout, the author underscores the importance of self-awareness, of being alert to one’s reveries, which “allows the dreamer to pass boundaries and in the process discover new insights.” While she advises setting aside a special time each day for writing, she also touts the benefits of taking a walk in the fresh air. “Creativity,” she has found, “is more like a cat than a dog. You can’t order it to come to you. You just have to make yourself available until…you find it leaping into your lap.” Once ideas have made it onto the page, Griffin advises thinking about word choice, sentence and paragraph structure, transitions, and the power of repetition and metaphors. Passages of memoir recount her development as a writer, beginning with clumsy childhood efforts, and she shares thoughts from a host of writers, including Proust, Virginia Woolf, Henry James, M.F.K. Fisher, Iris Murdoch, Patti Smith, and Lewis Carroll. Alice McDermott cautions, “A sentence that seeks to dazzle is merely annoying. A sentence that dazzles even as it deflects our amazement, graciously leading us to the next, is a sentence worth keeping.” Above all, Griffin encourages all writers to believe in themselves: “When you tell any story, you create a system in which, as with a watershed, every word or sentence reflects and acts upon every other, in a way that, miraculous as it sometimes seems, is never static, but like nature is always evolving, transforming before your very eyes.”
Warm reassurance from a veteran writer.