September 23, 2008

writings about writing

Some one mentioned she had just read a good book on writing memoirs today - turns out it is by Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones author, one of the really good books on writing.
Here are a few others of note:
-Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott (Once I read her book, Operating Instructions, I was hers for life).
- Walking on Water, reflections on faith and art by Madeleine L'Engle (I just bought myself a new copy (beautiful edition by Shaw) as she signed the old one which is falling apart and has moved into things to love but not play with category.
-Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury (wonderfully Bradbury which means very sane advice coupled with his enthusiastic madness).
-How to enjoy writing: a book of aid and comfort by Janet and Isaac Asimov (a favorite I reread just for the pleasure of their remarks...I meant him once, mistook him for someone else, and he was extremely gracious).
-Natalie Goldberg has several writing books out, all are good although I view "the bones" one mentioned above as her gold standard.
-A Broom of One's Own by Nancy Peacock is a recent favorite that I liked so much I bought my own copy after reading a library copy.

I just picked up two different titles by Katherine Paterson , the children's author, that look interesting, there's an Ursula LeGuin I want to get to... there are actually a lot of books by writers on the subject since writers like to write and that often includes writing about writing.
I do wish Neil Gaiman would write one but I doubt he ever will.

Why read these? Because writers frequently find themselves surrounded by nonwriters who find the whole business of sitting alone, scratching your thoughts out, and agonizing over your dreadful prose and lack of talent which torments you until you get a line just right and then you glow all day, well, others find all of this a bit strange (and they are probably right) and being one who writes can be a lonely place. like being the only believer in a religion nobody else follows.

Books by writers on writing are nice to dip into now and again, borrow some advice, but mainly a place to hang out with people who think the way you do - which can be a welcoming place to visit when your writing spirits are low. There are, of course, writing blogs by writers but even the best ones are places on the computer you should probably not hang around since, if you recall, you sat down at the computer to write your own stuff and now you are distracted checking mail, reading blogs, typing comments, cruising Etsy, and your story is just wandering about in your head, muttering to itself. Yeah.


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