Thursday, October 23, 2008
on my shelf: part two
The best writing books continued:
6. A Writer’s Paris, Eric Maisel. While his theology drives me insane, much of this book is admirable. It is also probably the most physically beautiful book I own. And I love the idea of writing in Paris (shocking, no?)... but this is also a practical book for writing here at home. (Though southern Illinois lacks the charm of la vie en rose…)
7. Rules of Thumb is a compilation of essays (most of them short) by a variety of authors, collected by Michael Martone and Susan Neville. Many of the essays are decent, and a handful are quite, quite good and continue to haunt me as I work. Since the essays are short, this is like an inspirational “snack” when I’m getting bogged down.
8. Walking on Water, Madeleine L’Engle. A classic on creativity. Elegantly written. She’s just so darn good.
9. On Writing Well, William Zinsser. One of the first writing books I ever owned. I heard a writer/speaker say that this was the driest, most boring writing book she’d ever read, and I nearly fell out of my chair. (I settled for grabbing my brother-in-law’s arm and whispering emphatically, “That is a fabulous book! Fabulous!!” and then making little noises of alarm as the speaker continued.) So I guess it’s not for everyone. But every time I pick this one up, my writing is cleaner and tighter.
10. 78 Reasons Why Your Book May Never Be Published & 14 Reasons Why It Just Might, by Pat Walsh. “That’s its title?” my sister exclaimed. Yeah. It sounds depressing, but Walsh has some very good, very solid advice, and a no-nonsense perspective. (What, could you sense that already?) Most of all, he’s practical and clear.
Okay, just writing about my favorites makes me calmer. It’s like having ten brilliant professors at your beck and call. Ask them anything. Look at them, lined up there: expectant, ready with the answers.
But I already know one answer: It’s time to get back to work. After all, it’s raining outside, and there are candles lit within, so… back to the novel outline I go. I’ll earn myself some cocoa before the rain stops.—jl