Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Writing reading for the reading non-writer?

I'm engaged in a little self-study program right now, reading books on writing in the hope that the collective wisdom and frustrations of "real" writers will somehow shake off onto me before November and I'll be able to get through this year's novel without tears, angst, and ennui. I've no illusions that I'm going to be the next Great American Novelist, but I'd like my writing to be at least of a quality where I'm not far too embarrassed and ashamed to show it to anyone. Any recommendations? Thus far I've read and enjoyed:
In the "read and found OK pile" we have:
And because I really need to:
I'm still slogging through Elements, as penance for being a chronic hyphenator and parenthesizer and all-around style butcher. Plus, I've found discussions of nominative form to be great for insomnia.

If you're familiar with the first three titles, you can probably see a theme evolving: books by writers who spend time procrastinating or advocating the "just write it down" school of thought. Bradbury's book had some interesting thoughts on writing using free-association word lists as a basis. I'm gathering up advice magpie-fashion, so any suggestions you can send my way are welcome.


Strikethru said...

I'm not really a Stephen King fan (although I think he is probably my only celebrity sighting in the wild, one day I passed him walking down a sidewalk in Boston, wearing a Red Sox hat) but I enjoyed his book "On Writing." I also love "The Forest for the Trees" by Betsy Lerner (she is an editor/literary agent). I've read that one a few times.

I am one of those rare birds who doesn't like Natalie Goldberg. Too flaky.

mpclemens said...

Goldberg's book is a little hippie-dippy, but the advice about "keeping the hand moving" and filling notebooks with dreck as practice seemed to be to be in-line with the non-thinking required at NaNo time. Instead of notebooks, I blog. :-)

I've heard the King book praised elsewhere, I'll have to look into it. Ooh! That reminds me of one I need to add to the post, thank you. I'll look for Lerner's as well.

Teri said...

Try "Making a Literary Life" by Carolyn See. It's entertaining and has some wonderful stuff. Anne Dillard's book on writing is good too.