DANCES WITH WOLVES
Book Review – Natalie Bright
DANCES WITH WOLVES sold over 3.5 million copies and was translated into 15 languages. The 1990 film, which Kevin Costner directed and starred in, won seven Oscars including Best Picture and Best Screenplay for Michael Blake. He also won the WGA Award and Golden Globes for his script. Local writers were treated with an unbelievable opportunity to meet this amazingly gifted writer. You’ve probably seen the movie, but I highly recommend the book as well.
Michael Blake shared a heartfelt and grippingly honest reflection in the creation of his book, DANCES WITH WOLVES, during a visit through Amarillo many years ago. After becoming engrossed in Indian history, his long-time friend Kevin Costner, encouraged him to write a novel rather than a screenplay. Mr. Blake told us that he struggled with the ending. The L.A. atmosphere did not lend itself to the inspiration he craved. He moved to Arizona where he lived in his car, worked as a dishwasher, and completed the book.
What a treat to meet Mr. Blake and learn about his struggles and process. I wrote as fast as I could, trying to make note of every word. Following, are some of his best quotes that resonated with me personally from his talk to our Amarillo writers’ group.
- “Writers are driven to create something from our heart and soul. This is in direct conflict with the agent, producers, and editor’s side of the business,” and for this reason he encouraged us to not be afraid of rejection.
- “No matter what, keep writing at a level that people will want to read, and keep reading,” he said.
- “American Indians knew things about the world that we had forgotten. Modern life has moved us away from life on earth. We need balance between earth and our existence.” This belief inspired him to write a story.
- “Inspire with your writing.”
- “It’s all about finishing. Power through and get it done.”
- “Writing must convey feeling. Be different and devastating in terms of feeling.”
- “Make every conceivable effort to put good words on paper.”
- “Stay at it!” says Michael Blake. “If you remember only one thing from my talk, this is the thing I want you to take away—never give up.”