“…books are a uniquely portable magic.”
This quote from On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, by Stephen King, sums up the whole book for me. I finally read it, and thanks to all you out there who insisted I do!! I loved the book, and now it is my turn to insist that any writer who has not read it – READ IT!
I can’t count how many pages I’ve folded, or how many passages I’ve underlined – there are too many, but I will tell you the two main things I got from the book.
1. “When you rewrite, your main job is taking out all the things that are not the story.”
Sounds simple, eh? (notice my Canadian accent coming out!). For me, it is and it isn’t. It’s a concept I hold dearly, but never thought of in those terms, and as we all know, wording is everything.
One of my main struggles with my current wip is pacing – how much to reveal at what moment. I also find it drags at the beginning, and I have wondered how much info is needed. My writing is character driven, and so are my favourite reads (I struggle with plot driven novels of any genre). Since the characters make the novel, this line puts everything into perspective for me, and not just with the opening of my wip. If it’s not story, I don’t need it.
2: “Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.”
I love the magic of the first draft, of not knowing what’s coming. It is probably my favourite part of writing. Re-drafting, is all about transferring that magic into something others can see. But, I had never drawn a clear line like this. It changes a lot in my thought process, it suddenly makes it possible for me know when it’s time to let others in (metaphorically, of course).
I think more than anything this book gave me the desire to write. Sometimes when I read a book on writing I become intimidated or overwhelmed with all the details (I am a writer who relies a lot on instinct), and I hesitate with my next writing session. This book had the complete opposite effect on me – with every section I read I became more enthusiastic about writing.
I’ll leave you with what I think is an appropriate quote for the New Year: “Put your desk in the corner, and every time you sit down there to write, remind yourself why it isn’t in the middle of the room. Life isn’t a support system for art. It’s the other way around.”
Happy New Year!
Are there any writing books that you recommend?