Reflections on a Book: Rumors of Water

“The other important thing to remember is that the work will ask of us what it needs.
If everything seems like a big mess, at any point in the process, 
we can take that as a good sign.
The work is trying to speak to us, trying to tell us what it needs.
Our job is not to panic, but to listen and respond.”
 “Rumors of Water: thoughts on creativity & writing,” 
by L.L. Barkat, pg. 94Disguised as a small, digestible collection of memories,
rich with stories of mothering and growing up;
of woodland meanderings and local farm-stores;
of lighthouses and ailing grandmothers,
“Rumors of Water” is one of the of the most beautiful books 
on the art and craft of writing 
that I’ve ever read. 
Paying heed to the changes in the publishing industry, 
unabashedly admitting that it’s not easy to be either a writer or an editor, 
L.L. Barkat shares with her readers some of own journey as both. 

Weaving in conversations with her two daughters, ages 14 and 11, 
Barkat shows us what the writing life looks like 
while living creatively with her children, 
tending to the needs of her garden, 
keeping her fingers in multiple occupational pies.
Using snapshots from day-to-day life, 
she sets down a kind of diagram;
a diagram not just for the act of writing,
but for the art of living a writing life. 

Each of the book’s seven headings tells part of the story:
And within each of these seven, come the smaller slices.
In chapters no longer than two or three pages, 
each one built around a brief vignette from life, 
she expands the sectional headings, touching on things like:
“Write with What You Have”
“Nurturing Voice through Tenderness”
“Do You Cultivate Your Wild Side?”
“Making Details Real and Realer”
“Delusions of Grandeur”
“Writing the Truth”
“Writing Takes Time” 

I will admit to tears at two points:
reading about her younger daughter Sonia’s brave climb to the top of a lighthouse, each step marked by the stabbing joint pain of Lyme’s disease;
and reading her older daughter Sara’s exquisite essay, submitted as part of an application process for a distance-learning school. This young woman has clearly inherited much of her mother’s skill with words, structure and voice. 

I took this book out to the backyard today, 
a breath-takingly beautiful afternoon here in Santa Barbara.
I deliberately placed it beneath a book I was supposed to read – a biblical commentary for a study I’m co-teaching this fall, whose planning committee is coming to my house tomorrow to wrap up preparations. 
I needed to read that commentary.
But I chose to read “Rumors of Water.”
Turns out, I needed Barkat’s written beauty as much as I needed the warmth of the sun and the view of the mountains. And, at this point in my own particular life journey, I needed “Rumors” far more than I needed that commentary. 
And I needed it at a deeper level than even I knew.
I don’t – and I won’t – regret it, not for one single minute. 

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  1. Don’t you love it when the right book makes it to the top of the pile. This sounds wonderful.


  2. I think you chose well. And your review reads with the same kind of loveliness which is on display all throughout L.L. Barkat’s book.

  3. Lovely. The post gave me chills. It’s on my to-read list, for sure.

    Thanks for sharing!

  4. I can’t wait to read this — I am hearing about it and reading about it everywhere!

  5. I have her ‘Stone Crossings’ in my TBR pile and am hoping to get to it soon. It sounds like I need to add this one, too. From any exposure I’ve had to her online writings I’d say her words are inspired and inspiring.