That’s about how reading Unless It Moves the Human Heart: The Craft and Art of Writing made me feel. On the one hand, as a teacher, I could appreciate some of Roger Rosenblatt’s discussions; on the other hand, as a writer (but not of fiction), I had a hard time relating to his views on writing. To be fair, I’ve always known that my approach to writing is perhaps the exception rather than the norm. Writing may actually be the mystical process Rosenblatt describes for the majority of writers, or perhaps the majority of writers of fiction. Still, as a teacher, I don’t think he spent enough time acknowledging that his own views on what writing is–and on what GOOD writing is–are not the only views to be had. (I also had a hard time with how seriously his students took those views…although he absolutely acknowledges that he wrote about the sense of a writing class, rather than the actual words of his students, so perhaps it wasn’t really as bad as it seemed. Who actually asks a writing teacher, no matter how critically acclaimed, questions like “Where should writers live?” and “Should writers be friends with other writers?” How are you original enough to be a good writer if you’re looking to someone else to tell you where you should live and who your associates should be?)
Anyway. My friend Britt picked it for Book Club, and it spoke to her more than it did to me (of course, she DOES write fiction). And there’s always the effect of post-pregnancy hormones and sleep deprivation to be considered. All in all, however, I found it interesting…but I wouldn’t have picked it up on my own. And while it was an interesting read–and it did provide some food for thought–I would have been okay if I hadn’t read it. I’m also, you understand, okay that I did.
Hence the ambivalence.