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Posts tagged ‘Isabel Allende’

How to stay passionate in your life and writing, Part one

Some days I feel as if I’m still twelve and other days a hundred and twelve. Some days I feel young because I have so many things I want to do in the time I have left. And other days, I feel old because I’ve already done so much—I survived my childhood, graduated college, raised a family, worked for somebody else, ran my own business, went back to graduate school, changed businesses, buried my parents, and lost two aunts, two uncles, and two cousins in the span of two years.

So when I heard that one of my favorite authors Isabel Allende was giving a Ted Talk on aging, I couldn’t wait to watch it. In “How to live passionately—no matter your age,” Allende begins by quoting poet Mary Oliver in one of her poems: “Tell me, what are you going to do with your own wild and precious life?” Allende says she wants to live passionately. How does she do this? By saying “yes” to life.

Staying young is often a matter of attitude, according to Allende. She says, “Our souls are ageless.”

After watching Allende’s Ted Talk, which you can view below, I was inspired to make a list of things I’m passionate about. I have many passions but some of my top ones are: spending time with my family, helping people with my business, writing, reading, being in nature, learning Spanish, and listening to music.

What are you passionate about? How do you live passionately? What are you doing with your one and only life?

For more on passion by Allende, see my previous post, “Igniting passion as an artist.”

In my next post, I’ll give tips for staying passionately connected to your writing.




Writing to a positive resolution

“Listen, Paula. I am going to tell you a story, so that when you wake up you will not feel so lost.”

Thus begins Isabel Allende’s heartrending story of the death of her daughter, Paula, who suffered a seizure and fell into an irreversible coma when she was 26 years old.

Hoping that someday her daughter will be able to read her words, Allende began writing as Paula lay in a Madrid hospital. The author deftly weaves the story of her family history, her upbringing, and the history of her country, Chile, with the story of her daughter’s illness. Though Paula: A Memoir is a tragic story of the loss of her child, Allende turns it into a beautiful tribute full of lyrical, mystical, and sometimes humorous writing. Though we suffer with her over her child’s fate, and feel her pain, she eventually leads us to a place of transcendence.

Instead of ending her book with an artificial, tacked-on “happy ending” or a moralistic treatise on “what she learned” from her journey, Allende begins long before the end of the book to show us her turns. Read more

Igniting passion as an artist

Whether you’re a writer, painter, photographer, or other type of artist, you are a creator, a mini-god, a microcosm of the macrocosm. And you create for a reason. All artists have their reasons. I began creating as a way to answer questions: Who am I? Why am I here? Is there any purpose to my life? Why do things happen the way they do?

These questions are what motivate me to write. In the writing, occasionally, I get answers. There are other reasons why I write—I like to tell stories, to explore relationships and psychology. But my real passion for writing stems from my original questions.

What is your passion? Why do you create? These are important questions every artist needs to answer for themselves. The key, I think, is in the word passion. Read more

Masters of emotion: five books that show how to convey character emotions

Recently, I wrote a post about character emotions and how to write about the body. Below are five books from my reading library that show different ways of conveying character emotions:

1. Bastard out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison. Note her use of specific detail, imagery, and metaphor to show bodily feelings and her characters’ emotions.

2. The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Notice how his spare language conveys the post-apocalyptic world of his setting and characters.

3. Elegy for Iris by John Bayley. The author writes about his wife Iris Murdoch, a well-known author, and her decent into Alzheimer’s disease. Notice the way he describes both her emotional state and his own through specific details.

4. Road Dogs by Elmore Leonard. Notice how the characters’ dialogue so effectively conveys their emotions and shows us who they are.

5. The House of the Spirits by Isabel Allende. Allende is a passionate Chilean writer. Notice how her passion underlies every sentence of her work and how it pulls you into the story.

I hope you enjoy these! Please share some of your favorite books that are good examples of how to describe character emotions.