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Georgia O'Keeffe's ventriloquist

What a shame for a work of historical fiction to be written in an imagined, imitation voice of Georgia O'Keeffe, when her real, riveting voice can be read by dipping into My Faraway One: Selected Letters of Georgia O'Keeffe and Alfred Stieglitz 1915-1933, an enormous and masterful volume, edited by Sarah Greenough and published by Yale University Press. Yet that is what Dawn Tripp had done in her new novel titled Georgia.

O'Keeffe's own letters are full of plainspoken words and phrases--at times erotic, always evocative about nature, and sometimes rich with esoteric thoughts, like these from her first summer in New Mexico: "I have never had a more beautiful walk--the mountains and the scrubby cedar were so rich and warm colored they seemed to come right up to me and touch my skin...I seem to be hunting for something of myself out there--something in myself that will give me a symbol for all this--a symbol for the sense of life I get out here."  Read More 
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"memoir's invaluable shadow side"

The Hidden Writer: Diaries and the Creative Life by Alexandra Johnson is a fascinating study about how writers try to make the transition from a private to a public written voice, making the transition from keeping a journal to publishing a memoir.

The author quotes May Sarton about the memoirist having "the temptation to romanticize, round off the corners, present a socially acceptable face of oneself and others."

Meanwhile, she says that the journal is "memoir's invaluable shadow side, exposing the darker, truer textures of a life." The challenge for a writer of memoir is to have the courage to reveal the truth, while crafting the raw language of the journal into polished literary form.  Read More 
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Inspiration from the grandmother of bloggers

When starting a blog, I wanted to get some inspiration and historical perspective from Eleanor Roosevelt's popular "My Day" column, which she began as First Lady in 1936. The technology was vastly different then - her columns were syndicated in newspapers - but her impulse as a blogger was not.

In less than an hour she wrote five hundred words six days a week for almost three decades. Her voice is frank and natural, and her idealistic and compassionate personality shines through. Writing more about her public than her private life - her outrage at violations of human rights, for instance - she also expressed her pleasure in gardening and family gatherings as well as her embarrassment at her foibles, like losing her driver's license after going through a stop sign.

So now I am ready to begin
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