Acetylene Torch Songs
Writing True Stories to Ignite the Soul
by Sue William Silverman
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Pub Date 01 Jan 2024 | Archive Date 31 Dec 2023
Drawing on twenty-five years of teaching and mentoring writers, Sue William Silverman stresses practice over theory. She encourages craftiness as well as craft and urges writers to embark on emotional quests in pursuit of their art. Acetylene Torch Songs uniquely illustrates how the writer’s imaginative spirit comes alive on the page through metaphor, literary masks, sensory memories, voice, obsessions, and more. This holistic approach to writing emphasizes how the creative process brings together the heart, mind, and senses to illuminate the human condition through language. Featuring a personal essay in each chapter, Silverman uses her own work to model a specific concept or approach, demonstrating how obsessions, secrets, and memories can burn on the page.
Through guided prompts, worksheets, checklists, publishing advice, personal essays, and strategies, Silverman encourages writers to find the confidence and courage to write stories that reach beyond the page through their intimacy, social engagement, and honesty.
“This wonderful book is unique in my experience: writing advice not from Olympus but from a kind, wise, human guide who has learned how to translate her experience into art and who shows us how we can, too. Beginners and veteran writers alike have much to learn from Silverman.”—Clifford Thompson, author of What It Is: Race, Family, and One Thinking Black Man’s Blues
“Silverman reclaims and honors the disparaged term ‘confessional,’ encouraging writers to use their passions, hauntings, and experiences as fuel for quality nonfiction. Snapping with bright fire, this new craft guide is also a guide for the soul: audacious, pulsing with life, and sure to inspire.”—Sonya Huber, author of Voice First: A Writer’s Manifesto
“Acetylene Torch Songs is precisely what you’d expect from the wondrous Sue William Silverman. This is no mere manual but an essential lodestar for artists of nonfiction, a book with a vision that will be a game-changer for writers who wish to do as Silverman herself does so well: to daringly reveal the ecstasies and darknesses that dwell at the hub of us.”—William Giraldi, author of The Hero’s Body and American Audacity
“Sue William Silverman’s Acetylene Torch Songs is a gift for creative nonfiction writers, and a guiding light: offering a holistic and hands-on approach to writing our memories, our obsessions, and ourselves. This is a gorgeous book of body and mind, of heart and soul. In the truest sense it’s also a torch: one we might carry with us as we write, as we dig into the dark corners of our lives, making our stories burn bright.”—Melissa Faliveno, author of Tomboyland