Willa Cather‘s The Song of the Larkimg_11741

Breaking it down, as they say.  Taking a closer look.

Some of the similes: 

  • Ray thinking about Thea:  “She was like wedding cake, a thing to dream on.”
  • Thea thinking about an older couple she had seen together:  “Thea wanted to put her arms around them and ask them how they had been able to keep a feeling like that, like a nosegay in a glass of water.”

Examples of her technique:

  • moving swiftly through an unimportant part:  “For the next few minutes there was a clatter of teacups and responses about sugar.”
  • orienting the reader at the beginning of a new part:  “He is ten years older than when we saw him last…”

In 1908, years before her first novel was published, a fellow writer wrote to Willa Cather.  “You must find a quiet place.  You must find your own quiet center of life, and write from that.”

Thea: “Often when she sang, the best she had was unavailable; she could not break through to it, and every sort of distraction and mischance came between it and her.  But this afternoon the closed roads opened, the gates dropped.  What she had so often tried to reach, lay under her hand.  She had only to touch an idea to make it live.”

Willa or Thea?  Writing or singing?  Or all of the above.