In preparation for the 60 days of writing, I checked out a shelf from the local library. I borrowed 20 books on how to write- choosing books based on how current the information is (2005 to present) and how useful it looked.
On this blog, I will review each one with an eye towards how useful they turned out to be and my recommendations on how to use them.
I’m also collecting books with sentences, characters, themes and plots that I love. I’ll blog about them here as well.
If you have suggestions of books that you love, please send me the title and details about why you love them.
For this the first book review blog, I need to give my props to Ms. Natalie Goldberg. Her’s were the first books on writing that I ever bought, way back during my days working at Border’s (1993- Philadelphia, 1994-1997 Waikele, Hawaii).
Her classic Writing Down the Bones explains her “writing as practice” method in which you write for a predetermined time period on a topic. This process will free your mind and enable you to write things you never “thought.” If you haven’t read it, my god, what are you doing?
One of my favorite writing teachers, Tom Peek, teaches this method. He says its like opening the tap at the bottom of your “brain barrel.” First a lot of sludge drains out and then your pen brings out the sweet stuff floating at the top.
After that, I read the sequel Wild Mind, which is similar to Writing Down the Bones. Both are short essays on writing, Zen Buddhism and life in general.
My second favorite of Natalie’s books is Thunder and Lightning, Cracking Open the Writer’s Craft. I have this one on tape and I listened to it about three times straight through and love to just pop in a tape and listen to it randomly. She has a great Brooklyn accent that is so fun to listen to. She talks about her students, her writing path, her mentors, publishing and her early books.
She also wrote Long Quiet Highway (about her Zen life) and Banana Rose (a novel).
She also has a bunch of other books I haven’t read yet: Living Color, Top of My Lungs, The Essential Writer’s Notebook, The Great Failure and Old Friend from Far Away. I used to have this great Border’s Tshirt that said, “So many books, so little time, Drink Coffee!” And that is my only excuse for not reading every single one of Natalie’s books. What am I doing?
Did I mention? Natalie also does workshops which sound awesome (one of my dreams is to attend one..or several!) Many of them take place at the historic Mabel Dodge Luhan house in Taos, NM.
And one more thing: The National Novel Writing Month (see the links in Writing Tools) morphs Natalie’s timed writing method to help people write 50,000 word novels. This is how I got my first rough draft. What a great way to spend November!