Monday, 12 July 2010

Eat Pray and Be Positive

I was looking for an example of writing for my talk at the RNA Conference and came up with this bit from Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Despite recommendations I was a bit sceptical I would like this book but I've liked what I've read so far. Here's an extract to show why.

They come upon me all silent and menacing like Pinkerton Detectives, and they flank me – Depression on my left, Loneliness on my right. They don’t need to show me their badges. I know these guys very well. We’ve been playing a cat-and-mouse game for years now. Though I admit that I am surprised to meet them in this elegant Italian garden at dusk. This is no place they belong.

I say to them, ‘How did you find me here? Who told you I had come to Rome?’

Depression, always the wise guy, says, ‘What – you’re not happy to see us?’

‘Go away, I tell him.

Loneliness, the more sensitive cop, says, ‘I’m sorry, ma’am. But I might have to tail you the whole time you’re travelling. It’s my assignment.’ .......

.....‘It’s not fair for you to come here,’ I tell Depression. ‘I paid you off already. I served my time back in New York.’

But he just gives me that dark smile, settles into my favourite chair, puts his feet on my table and lights a cigar, filling the place with his awful smoke. Loneliness watches and sighs, then climbs into my bed and pulls the covers over himself, fully dressed, shoes and all. He’s going to make me sleep with him again tonight, I just know it.


First of all, there's lots of pzazz here. I like the overall image, Depression and Loneliness being detectives, and the way the idea is carried throughout the rest of the piece. Each time a phrase that compounds the image eg showing their badges it adds a bit of pzazz.

And what does all that pzazz do? It takes a section - and it's several pages in the book - about a woman succumbing to a bout of deep depression and turns it into something fun to read. We're aware that this is going to be painful for her, but the reading experience is anything but. It's a really good example of how to write something negative in a positive way.

At last! I've got my finger out and have committed to running some day courses:
Writing a Novel - 31st July in Bath and 18th September in Truro
Getting a Novel Published - 1st August in Bath and 19th September in Truro
Contact me on sarah@sarahduncan.co.uk for more info...

7 comments:

wilburwip said...

great excerpt - the phrase "shoes and all" brought a smile... i'd be intereested to know what you think of the book as a whole when you've finished (can she sustain it?)

Fionnuala Kearney said...

I loved this book - Julia Roberts plays mc in the upcoming movie?

I wanted to say hi Sarah and apologise again for my faux pas at the RNA on Sat. See confessions here: http://strictlywriting.blogspot.com/

By the way do you run any of your courses London direction?

Jane Holland said...

Lovely to meet you at the RNA Conference, Sarah. I was the slightly eccentric lady who had to apologise after your talk for pulling odd faces at you from the second row. Hope you've recovered from that experience and are now relieved to know it was nothing to do with you!

Bestest, Jane

Sarah Duncan said...

I think she might lose me when she goes guru-wards, but we'll see.

Fionnuala - don't worry, really. It was pathetic of me not to have handled it better. I've posted on your blog my worst encounter with the know-your-face/name but can't place you. 100% true. And yes, Julia Roberts is playing her. I can't see how it's going to work as a film, as the book is v much about the writing style.

I'm going to try to get the courses Londonwards next year - know any good venues???

Jane - you did look cross and (I thought) disapproving, so it was a great relief to know it was nothing to do with me and what I was saying.

Lovely to meet you both!

Cara Cooper said...

Sarah, it was a wonderful talk, really inspiring, incredibly useful and the excerpt was an excellent illustration. I was pretty exhausted by the time you came on - it had been a frenetic few days of hard conference going - but you woke me right up!

Thank you

Debs said...

I didn't manage to speak to you at the conference, but my Mum was on the same table at the Gala dinner and had a wonderful time.

I did buy a copy of Kissing Mr Wrong there though and crammed it into my overnight bag with several other books and can't wait to start reading it.

Sarah Duncan said...

Thanks Cara, that's really kind of you. I reckoned all that table thumping would help to keep the eyelids open.

Debs - I had such a good time at the gala dinner that I can't remember who was on my table! Tis all a vague blur - but a fun blur so glad your mum had fun too. There were millions of people I didn't speak to and wanted to, and talks I didn't go to and wanted to, I could do the whole thing again next weekend.