W.B.’s Book Report: Storyteller

Storyteller: Writing Lessons and More from 27 Years of the Clarion Writer’s Workshop by Kate Wilhelm has been in my possession since shortly after it was published in 2005. It spent much of its existence in storage — but I think it’s earned a spot on my shelf.

I put it on my “to-read” shelf but packed it in a bin when we moved and built the house in 2012. It lost its dust cover, I seem to recall, to an incontinent cat. Its last resting place was in a plastic bin in the garage, where a family of mice discovered the lid was not as secure as I believed.

This summer I discovered about two dozen books in that bin had become shredded mouse bedding. Storyteller emerged with bits of spine nibbled off at the top and bottom. Apparently Small Beer Press makes its covers out of a material that mice do not find tasty. That turns out to be good news for me.

I had heard wondrous things about this book from writers I respect, and finally this weekend I took it off the “Why haven’t I read this yet” list, devouring it (not in the same sense as the mice) in two days.

It is partially a memoir of her time working on the Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Workshop with her husband, Damon Knight. Mostly it is one of the most clear, concise, educational and honest books about writing I have encountered.

Storyteller got me excited about telling stories again. That’s the highest praise possible for a book about writing.

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