To write like Ann Patchett, that’s the Holy Grail. She has attained the glory of writing successfully in both fiction and nonfiction and has the awards to prove it. Though I don’t write for awards, (and I’m sure she doesn’t either,) I do write with the idea that I’ve stumbled upon and tripped over some kernel of truth and there is nothing I’d be happier doing than sharing that little gem with someone else.
Yes, I’m a huge fan of Ann Patchett–Bel Canto and Truth and Beauty will always be among my favorites–but what really motivates me as a writer is the impressive gift she has for writing as if she is your best friend, talking from the heart and giving you her hard-earned truths and observed wisdom about the human spirit. And she wraps it all up in this pretty, but not ostentatious package that you can’t wait to unwrap and unwrap and unwrap. Patchett is a master of colloquial writing that sounds like normal conversation until you read the one line or phrase that makes your heart stop. Oh my! She’s nailed it! The truth that begs to be revealed, but so few people have the ability and language to express it, much less pass it on. What more could a writer aspire to do?
I’ve written a memoir about my marriage and the transformation I resisted and then embraced through the ups and downs of that experience, but I was having trouble with one aspect of the memoir that seemed small, yet was really the crux of the entire manuscript. Then I read Patchett’s This is the Story of a Happy Marriage and there it was. The one sentence I’d been trying to write, yet couldn’t seem to convey as accurately and truthfully as I wanted. Oh my! She nailed it. Thank you, Ms. Patchett, for writing with such truth and beauty and for inspiring writers like me to keep hammering away at our own truths until we nail it.