My Blogathon 2012 buddies are writing on the topic, “5 Movies that Inspired my Blogging.” Since I barely remember a movie past the credits, I figured I’d better write about something else.
So without further ado, be delighted and inspired by these five books that have inspired my writing:
1. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. If you’ve ever dreamt of writing, if you’ve ever been plagued with doubts about writing, if you’ve ever believed professional writers are so much more together than you, read Bird by Bird. Pieces of this book are among the most quoted by writers to writers, particularly the “shitty first drafts” bit. Yes, there is actually a chapter called this and the name alone should give an inkling as to its content. Lamott reminds us that everyone writes SFDs. My personal favorite chapter tackles SFDs cousin, Radio Station KFKD (sound it out). Here is an excerpt:
“If you are not careful, station KFKD will play in your head twenty-four hours a day, nonstop, in stereo. Out of the right speaker…will come the endless stream of self-aggrandizement, the recitation of one’s specialness… Out of the left speaker will be the rap songs of self-loathing, the lists of all the things one doesn’t do well, of all the mistakes one has made today and over an entire lifetime, the doubt, the assertion that everything that one touches turns to shit, that one doesn’t do relationships well, that one is in every way a fraud, incapable of selfless love, that one has no talent or insight, and on and on and on.”
What inspired me: Welcome to my world. Such is the life of a writer. Lamott reminds writers everywhere that we all suffer the same malady of doubt.
2. On Writing by Stephen King. First let me say I’m not a Stephen King fan. But in a spurt of reading books on writing, his was on the shelf. If you can plow through the self-indulgent pieces, King offers some gems of writing wisdom.
What inspired me: No one writes well on first drafts. Even rich authors like Stephen King pen dribble unworthy of print. The difference is, of course, writers who care hone their words, give flesh to characters, dig for deeper meanings and, ultimately, tell a story worth reading.
3. Creating a Life Worth Living by Carol Lloyd. Lloyd’s book meshes the creative mind with sanity. We creati
ve types are often stereotyped as flighty and irresponsible. If our tendency is not to be flighty and irresponsible, we question our creativity. Lloyd breaks creative personas into types, similar to a Myers-Briggs personanalysis. What inspired me: Reading this gave me insight into myself as a creative and granted permission to be myself—I may not have my head in the clouds, I may not dream up outlandish sci-fi characters or layered plots, but I’m still a writer. And a good one. My genre fits me and that’s okay because that’s where I’ve been gifted.
4. The Renegade Writer by Linda Formichelli and Diana Burrell. This “totally unconventional guide to freelance writing success” is just that—unconventional. The authors encourage writers to break rules, not to be rebels, but to get a job done. If a good query exceeds one page (the industry rule), so be it. If a publication directs queries to an editor@….com address, find a real editor and vett an email address (to avoid the slush pile).
5. The Literary Ladies Guide to the Writing Life by Nava Atlas. This one is just pure fun and inspiration.What inspired me: We can get so wrapped up in rules we cease to be effective. This books affirmed my style and just made sense. I loved the no-nonsense, but always professional, approach to writing and marketing oneself.What inspired me: Where else can you get inside the minds of celebrated women authors, most of whom are long passed from this world? This book was like having a chat over tea.