Widgets December 5 ~  See It My Way We Tell Ourselves Stories in Order to Live

"Writing is the act of saying 'I,' of imposing oneself upon other people, of saying, listen to me, see it my way, change your mind." ~ Joan Didion

One of America's finest writers and astute observers, Joan Didion (1934-), was born on this date in Sacramento. Her father was an Army Air Corps officer and the family moved often. Didion wrote her first story at age five in a notebook from her mother.

About her early years struggling with her muse at Berkeley, she explained, "All I knew was what I wasn’t, and it took me some years to discover what I was. Which was a writer."

A journalist, screenwriter, and novelist, she is best known for capturing life in California with vivid details and sharp dialogue. Her critically-acclaimed novels include, Play It As It Lays (1970), A Book of Common Prayer (1977), and The Last Thing He Wanted (1996).

About her craft, she has said, "The impulse for much writing is homesickness. You are trying to get back home, and in your writing you are invoking that home, so you are assuaging the homesickness."

Her writing style, labeled "New Journalism," is precise, spare, and tight. Always, Didion seems to be in control and has perfected the art of the personal essay. Personal, yet objective in her assessments, she often repeats phrases in almost dream-like rhythm.

"We tell ourselves stories in order to live," she wrote in The White Album (1979).

"I write in order to find out what I fear."

Her remarkable 13th book, The Year of Magical Thinking (2005) faced her fear and grief following the death of her husband and daughter. With "hard sweet wisdom," Didion cut and comforted the soul.

To write is to give a part of yourself to others.