It has been 12 years since I first read Wendell Berry’s Mad Farmer Liberation Front, and I’ve been devouring his novels, poems, and essays ever since. Which is, actually, not enough time to consume all 53 volumes that make up his prolific output. This is fine with me, as my to-read queue is fat and happy, contentedly waiting for me to get around to the next one on the list.
Last night, I had the pleasure of putting a face to the words, as I sat in a sold out crowd at the Herbst Theater as a part of the City Arts & Lectures Series to hear Mr. Berry answer questions and read from the three books he put out last year. Ladies and Gents, our dear Wendell is 78. And still, he puts out more books in a single year than some writers in their entire career. So, how does he do it?
1. He has a “writing place”, which he describes as a physical space in which “nothing is linear or square or rational”.
2. He allows himself to be distracted, by nature of the window he looks out upon as he writes, looking up from time to time at the world outside. He was once told to try staring at a blank wall while he writes, but he found that “not being distracted was the most distracting thing of all!” Wanting to be in conversation with the world, even while writing so that he doesn’t miss anything, helps him stay connected. ”I’d hate to be confined to a page!”
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