“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.” —Plutarch
It was over a decade ago that I sat in my first writers’ workshop at the Stonybrook Writers’ Conference. The almost round tables were configured to promote emotional connectivity and support, all good things when one’s writing is being critiqued by colleagues. For the most part, I never had any negative experiences that burn in my memory, but once in a while I had positive ones I still carry with me and enjoy remembering when I sit down to write.
One of my earliest good memories was when a student asked me if I knew Marilynne Robinson’s work, adding that my writing reminded him of hers; a suggestion, sadly, that couldn’t have been then, or now, further from the truth. What I wouldn’t give to have the flow of her words as well as her brain for myself! Naturally, I immediately set out to study her work which didn’t change my own writing any, but gave me enormous pleasure. And along that path I found that as much as I loved her novels, I became even more besotted with her essays, all of which guide the reader through complex and significant thoughts with such ease that I feel as if they literally blaze new trails in my neurons.