Monday, February 4, 2013

My Writer's Bookshelf Favorite: The Small Blue Book That Says It All

My Writer’s Bookshelf consumes just about every inch of my writing room’s cleverly-extended window sill.  While I peck away at my laptop’s keyboard, wandering and wondering, each book sits there, winking and waving.

Books on Craft, the Writing Process and Children’s Literature,
books on Elements of Narrative,
books on Storytelling.
How To’s, handbooks, manuals, Dummies Guides,
dictionaries (abridged and unabridged),
my trusty Roget’s.

Smack dab in the middle of the line-up, though, rests my very favorite writer’s book - M.B. Goffstein’s A Writer (Harper & Row, 1984).  Its sky-blue book spine short and slight brilliantly shines as my writer’s North Star.

I’m almost hoping you’ve never ever heard of this title, so this post can gift you the way the book first gifted me.

I came upon it at Florence Shay’s antiquarian bookstore Titles, in Highland Park,
Illinois while out and about on my Writer’s Journey sometime in the late 80’s.
I was figuratively lost, unsure of my path.
Opening this small treasure of a book, I was instantly found.
Everything was okay.
Really and truly.
Days spent daydreaming, imagining, probing my heart…
According to A Writer, that’s what writers do.

A writer
sits on her couch,
holding an idea,
until it’s time
to set words
upon paper,
to cut, prune,
plan, and shape them.

Thoughts that open
in her heart,
and weather every mood
and change of mind,
she will care for.

Back then, I was seeding and feeding my own stories as well as my writer self.
Marilyn Brooke Goffstein’s simplicity in words and lines spoke to the gardener in me.
Today I still grow my own stories but I also spend my days seeding and feeding other writers – Young Authors and authors young-at-heart.
Goffstein’s A Writer speaks even more loudly.

But, don’t take my word for it. See for yourself! 

Come to know this Minnesota-born writer, illustrator, children’s book creator, Parsons School of Design faculty member.
Visit her website.   
Read about her books, including the 1977 Caldecott Honored Fish for Supper.

Be sure to check her Tips for Picture Book Writers and Illustrators.
  • Write something you don't know but long to know.
  • It is tiresome to read a text that the author hasn't fought for, lost, and by some miracle when all hope is gone, found.
  • Do them (your readers) the honor of reaching for something far beyond you.
And, while Florence Shay and Titles, Inc. are sadly no longer with us, search other antiquarian bookstores for Goffstein’s one-of-a-kind books.

Lucky you should you come upon A Writer for sale so it can shine on your Writer’s Bookshelf!

Esther Hershenhorn

I especially love that Goffstein dedicated A Writer to Charlotte Zolotow, beloved children’s book author and award-winning Ursula-Nordstrom-trained editor whose Admiring Declines I still treasure as much as my first edition copy of M.B. Goffstein’s A Writer


Jeanette W. Stickel said...

Thank you for the gift! I've never heard of the title before. It sounds like a treasure.

The Pen and Ink Blog said...

Thank you for the gift og the introduction. I look forward to reading it.

April Halprin Wayland said...

I love this book, Esther--one of my favs. Oh, to be so concise!

Patricia said...

I just bought the book and look forward to reading it. Thanks for the post!

Carmela Martino said...

I never heard of this book, Esther. And our library doesn't have a copy. Guess I'll need to hunt it down elsewhere.

mary ann rodman said...

Oh my gosh, Esther, I have that book. It is a true gem. I will have to look for my old friend today.

mary ann rodman said...

Oh my gosh, Esther. I love and own this book. I will look for my old friend today.

mary ann rodman said...

Oh my gosh, Esther, I have that book. It is a true gem. I will have to look for my old friend today.

Anne Bromley said...

Thank you, Esther! Another one of your many gifts. I look forward to reading this lovely book.

Esther Hershenhorn said...

Marti, I promise you A WRITER is worth hunting down! :)
Introducing folks to MB Goffstein and particularly this book is akin to paying Kindness forward.