If you aren’t familiar with the southern writer Lee Smith, you might want to check her out. She is prolific, having written at least a dozen novels, by my count.  Among them is one of my favorites, The Devil’s Dream, which tells the story of a hillbilly music star (just in time for Ken Burns’ upcoming documentary about country music).

I highly recommend her collection of essays, Dimestore: A Writer’s Life, in which she vividly conjures the now-disappearing rhythm and culture of Appalachia. She also examines the writing craft and the many and varied reasons for writing. It’s worth seeking out.

Here are two passages I particularly liked:

“Of course writing is an escape, but it is a source of nourishment and strength, too… Whether we are writing fiction or nonfiction, journaling or writing for publication, writing itself is an inherently therapeutic activity. Simply to line up words one after another upon a page is to create some order where it did not exist, to give a recognizable shape to the chaos of our lives. Writing cannot bring our loved ones back, but it can sometimes fix them in our fleeting memories as they were in life, and it can always help us make it through the night.”


“Writing is not about fame, or even publication. It is not about exalted language, abstract themes, or the escapades of glamorous people. It is about our own real world and our own real lives and understanding what happens to us day by day, it is about playing with children and listening to old people.”

Here’s a link to Dimestore, on Amazon.

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I lead writing and mindfulness workshops throughout the Bay Area. My approach is adaptable in many settings — from helping groups honor an important life event to assisting a business team in articulating a shared vision. Contact me to learn more. For information on my San Francisco real estate practice, visit my real estate blog, RealEstateTherapy.org or my business website, KindredSFhomes.com.