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Breathing the Page: Reading the Act of Writing by Betsy Warland Read more: http://blogcritics.org/books/article/book-review-bre
Date of Review: 
Helen Gallagher

What is the power of the written word for a reader? Author/essayist Betsy Warland offers a deep analysis of the functions of narrative writing, the clarity of storytelling, and examples of her own experimental techniques in writing. With her new book, "Breathing the Page: Reading the Act of Writing," she leaves us richer, in our knowledge of the writer’s craft, and of the reader’s role in receiving a writer’s work.

When you pick up a book, how long does it take for you to settle in and commit to it? Readers learn how to pick up the cues, signals and gestures that reveal whether a story is engaging.

“Like dogs meeting in a park, scents are immediately exchanged, compatibility or lack of it is determined. Acted upon. When the scent is confused, overpowering, or too faint, the reader’s interest falters.”

"Breathing the Page" covers techniques critical to all writers, and will especially appeal to creative writing teachers, for its openness and clarity. Warland devotes much time to techniques such as proximity, the importance of time, and the challenge to feed into non-verbal language when addressing the reader, indicating that as much as 90 percent of how we communicate is non-verbal.

On her website, the author describes this book as “a map of my writing quest as a writer.” The overall feel of "Breathing the Page" mixes lessons on writing, such as form and structure, along with Warland’s own essay excerpts, etymology, and informative Q & A segments.

“Sustaining Yourself as a Writer” is a long piece with generous insights and complex layers, including introspective notes on the writer’s life. While several of the book's essays have been published elsewhere, a glance at the list of Warland’s publishing history can serve as a great resource for your own publishing aspirations, and act as a reminder of every writer’s need to keep writing, submitting, and succeeding.