We’re in the midst of the celebration season: Solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas, Cuanza, Wilkie Thumbnoggin. (Okay, that last one is just me but he’s a dear old friend and I only hear from him at this time of year; he leads such an interesting life. Can’t wait to hear what’s happened since that kerfuffle last year on the Isle of Jersey with the sea lions and Prince Charles.) It’s also the season of giving – or if giving isn’t practical, then sharing.
I’d like to share with you some wonderful books – the fiction kind – about writing. We’re all readers and writers and we all read and write for different reasons. I read to learn something, to escape, to relax, to be entertained and, of course, to edit. But sometimes I read for therapy (as a 21st century American, I need a lot of therapy). My favorite therapy books are the fictional tales about writers. These stories deal so satisfyingly with the fears, annoyances and obstacles I run up against in my work in the same way you experience them in yours.
There’s nothing like a good writer examining the perils and pains of their craft through the lens of fiction. It’s not only enjoyable but also comforting to read an author’s take on the hazards we all face when we sit down to write. They address the dreaded writer’s block, the struggle for discipline, the angst of working with publishers and dealing with fans (think King’s Misery). The concept of a writer writing about writing is rich with a million possible premises because this business is – and always will be – about limitless possibilities.
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Here are five of my picks. Some you may already have read but if not, I hope you’ll enjoy them.
Foul Matter, Martha Grimes (2004)
Ms. Grimes gives a grand romp through the egos, posturing and Machiavellian plotting of the industry of writing.
Blind Submission: A Novel, Debra Ginsberg (2006)
A wonderful indie look at delicate author sensibilities, the struggle for those next 1,000 words and the uses of an editor.
Piranha to Scurfy and Other Stories, Ruth Rendell (2001)
The title story offers the most satisfying rebuttal (or is it revenge?) to those obsessive readers who cannot let go of what they perceive to be a misplaced comma or an ‘incorrectly’ used word.
Plot It Yourself, Rex Stout (1959)
Every writer fears a charge of plagiarism. This tale is about a sort of reverse plagiarism and makes me ponder the infinite possibilities one can spin off an original premise.
Breakfast At Tiffany’s, Truman Capote (1958)
We never learn much about the narrator except that he’s a struggling writer. It’s through this writer’s eye that a rather tawdry story becomes magical. It’s the narrator’s portrayal of Holly Golightly, the way he invests her with an almost mystical quality that reaffirms for me the power of a writer’s vision.
If you can add to this list, I hope you will share. I’d love to read those tales about writing that have given you, if not therapy, at least a little wry solace. So happy reading and celebrate well this season!
Writers have always given us more than just great entertainment. Throughout the ages storytellers have had a major impact on society.
A long-term client has an eight-year-old granddaughter who wants to be a writer “just like Grandma”. My client asked me to give this young aspirant some advice about writing.
I’d love to hear your humorous book suggestions. I’d especially like to read a romance that will make me laugh and sigh with satisfaction.
We’re so lucky. The English language is like play dough.
Oh yes, we have strict rules of grammar, tense, POV, all the way to the minutia of intransitive verbs.
This character, Tall T Reynolds, is growing in my mind. I can see him tanned and raw and a bit dusty. I know his world is the 1940’s rural west and I know he’s going to briefly meet Lottie, a beautiful girl in a gleaming open topped coupe. Their brief exchange will never leave his mind. Soon after, Tall T will go off to war in Europe. He and Lottie will meet again in a most unexpected way.
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