Friday, September 08, 2006


Reading, Writing and Leaving Home, Lynn Freed, Harcourt Inc, 2005, 234 pp

This collection of essays about the writer's life was written over the past several years (since 1988) and originally published in various magazines. Amazingly they fit together very well in book form.

Freed was born and raised in South Africa. Her parents were theatre people, rather flamboyant and unconventional. All the essays are about being a writer but also about her life and her attempts to order that life around being a writer. I love reading about that subject and read the whole book in an evening.

She is witty and pithy and does not hold back on much. The key moment in the book for me was when she already had a husband, a child, a home to run and being unhappy, finally asked herself, "What do I really want to do?" That is such a quintessential question for a woman. She realized she only wanted to travel and to write. She then arranged her life accordingly, which did not bring her happiness, but it made her life make sense to her.

I realized from Lynn Freed's experience that what matters is for one's life to make sense to oneself. Sometimes you win, are happy, feel content for a few hours or days, but that is not the point. I felt what any good writing makes me feel: I am not alone. I also felt that I am working on the right things for me.

Good quote: "Leaving home is perhaps the central experience of the writer's life. It is this enigma that informs the writer's perspective-the restless pursuit of a way back while remaining steadfastly at a distance."

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