Monday, February 7, 2011

New Book on the Shelf

 You'll want this one on your writing shelf!

   In one of the writing magazines I subscribe to, I read a short review of John McNally's The Creative Writer's Survival Guide (University of Iowa Press, 2010) and ordered it immediately. Subtitled, "Advice from An Unrepentant Novelist", its 259 pages (minus index) are chock full of timely topics.
     The book is divided into six parts:
  1. The Decision to Become a Writer
  2. Education and the Writer
  3. Getting Published
  4. Publicity
  5. Employment for Writers
  6. The Writer's Life
     In addition, a section simply called "Notes" provides
  • Ten Rules to Keep Near You
  • My Five Favorite Movies about Writers
  • Recommended Reading
     Predictably, Rule #1 is "Writer every day. No excuses." I have to admit that there are days when I don't write a lot. Sometimes I'm just weary of it, so I give myself a vacation. Sometimes I'm just stuck--though I won't go so far as to call it 'writer's block'. Sometimes I have other things to do and run out of time. But I usually write something, even if it's no more than a blurb or a tagline--or a blog.
     Recently, I've gotten involved with a couple of sites for which I'm reading books and writing reviews. That's a good writing exercise, actually, requiring a bit more creativity than simply saying, "It was a good book. I liked it." Or, of course, the opposite.
     Skipping to Rule #10: "Find some joy in the act of writing. If you cease to find joy in it, it's probably time to do something else." Remember the fairytale "The Princess and the Pea"? The litmus test for a real princess was being able to feel the pea beneath stacks of feather beds. Perhaps Rule #10 speaks to the litmus test for a real writer. Simply, we write for the sheer enjoyment of putting the words on paper, no matter how time-consuming, frustrating, difficult, wearying, and often painful it is. For the writer, writing is joy.
     The back blurb says, in part, "Directed primarily at fiction writers but suitable for writers of all genres, John McNally's guide is a comprehensive, take-no-prisoners, blunt, highly idiosyncratic, and delightfully subjective take on the writing life." Now--how can you resist?    
Disclaimer: I bought my own copy of this book and am sharing it with my fellow writers! No perks garnered!

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