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Writing in a Convertible With the Top Down
Christi Killien and Sheila Binder
A Unique Guide for Writers
Published by Warner Books in 1992
Book Review by Bob Matherne ©2002


This book is as saucy as a joy ride with two friendly girls in a convertible with the top down. The girls are the authors who are writing each other about writing as they travel about various parts of the country. Again and again they teach us how to dive into our unconscious to form pearls of insights from our own sea floor bounty.

The maps they give us to the bottom are from many well-known authors on writing: Brenda Ueland, Peter Elbow, Gabriele Rico, and Natalie Goldberg. The idea of using the cluster diagrams of Rico to show relationships in a book you are writing and the idea of the "W" outline by Kubis and Howland are well worth the price of the book alone.

Best of all are the suggestions Sheila and Christi come up with on their own.

1) Challenge yourself to ten "likes" a day. [ I came up with "a neon sign is like a bowling alley"]

2) "Take it for a Spin: Look at any stuckness in your life as you would food on your plate, your face when getting ready for an important date, a person you haven't seen for a long time." Write about details of a portion of the image, like the date's nose.

3) "Explore the cupboards of your memory..." List the sayings, rituals, foods, and events that come up for you.

The book has an immediacy and intimacy that is both arresting and charming. We are invited to eavesdrop on two girl friends as they share their writing, thoughts about writing, and tips on how to write with each other. Get a copy of this, pull on a sweater, a tight cap, and climb in the back seat for a spin and you may soon forget their techniques- but your writing will forever show traces of the benefits of that saucy joy ride that is but the price of a paperback book away. My wife asked me after reading this review, "Is this book really this good?" Find out for yourself.

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