Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Grab a Pen and Kick Ass

“I have put my heart out to be shot at.”

J.R.R. Tolkien 


Do it anyway.


What’s the first book you remember? 


I’m not talking about the little boring readers we had in grammar school. I’m talking about a novel, a real chapter book. Mine was Anne of Green Gables. My mother read it to me, and then she read Black Beauty—I wish she hadn’t. Don’t torture a horse for me, and I was too young to know it was a muckraker. Then I discovered Walter Farley’s Black Beauty and fell in love, and continued with his books until I had read them all. Then there was Heidi, and Jack London’s Call o The Wild. 


Those people kicked ass. 


You know what I mean, their boot didn’t touch anybody’s backside, they touched our spirit. They made us love books. They gave us an adventure and set us on a never-ending reading trail.


Join the group. Write your book. It’s worth the effort, even if your work get’s shot at.


Don’t you sometimes read words presented so beautifully that it makes your mouth water? And then you try to do it, and end up with mud on your face?

You’re in the GAP.


The Gap is the place where you hear those lofty words you want to put down, you see the story, you have good taste, you know what’s good when you see it. The trouble is when you read your words, they just don’t sing as you had imagined.

That just means you’re here and want to be there.


The gap will close. Keep on writing.


It’s good that you have discerning eyes and can be objective.


You know that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you know that the writing life is magical, painful sometimes, yet worth the doing.


I’m here to nudge, I could say kick your ass into belivin’, perserverin’, doin’. (I’ve been reading Where the Crawdads Sing and have developed a southern drawl.) Talk about salivating over words. That woman kicked ass.


I will give you my list of the best books on writing—did I give these before? Well, I’m offering them again. They are too good to pass up. Hang on, I will list them, I just need to keep my pen moving. Yep, I’m writing (scribbling) with a pen sitting in our Pries with the heater on and my little dog beside me.


Later I will type this into the computer. Some brain experts say that writing longhand provides a deeper connection between the hand and the brain than a keyboard. Of course, if you compose well on a keyboard, do whatever works. 

I’ve heard that many novelists write their stories first in longhand. I wrote longhand for a long time for it was hard for me to compose on the computer. I had to graduate to it. 


Which is better? I don’t know. 


It works if you work it.


Begin reading. The following books will make you a better writer:


Anne Lamont’s book Bird by Bird is a must-read. (I love that girl.) thirty years ago, her little 10-yer-old brother had a report on birds due the following day. He had three months to do the assignment but faced the next-day deadline. We never do that, do we? The little guy was overwhelmed and in tears. His father sat down beside him, put an arm over his shoulder, and said, “Just take in bird by bird, Buddy, bird by bird.”


And so, dear reader/writer, as Lamont advises, take your words like the birds. Bird by bird, buddy, bird by bird.


Here are the best 10 books on writing.


1.On Writing by Steven King

A shoo-in for someone with that name and body of work

2. The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr & C.B. White.

Remember from freshman English? “Omit needless words. Omit needless words.”

3. ThWar of Art by Steven Pressfield

Overcoming resistance—could be called procrastination. And you find ways you didn’t know you were procrastinating. Still, when you get moving, you will also notice a lightness of spirit will envelop you, even if your writing sucks.

4. Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury

Zen didn’t seem quite right for Bradbury, but his enthusiasm for writing will set your pants on fire.

5. Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleoh.

Not, don’t plagiarize. However, everybody gets inspiration from somewhere. Take it from the best and make it your own.

6. Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg

This is an all-time most popular book on writing, and it is celebrating its 30th year. It is one of the first books on writing I read, and I lost it on a move from California to Oregon, so I’m ordering it again.

7. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamont. 

Dear Anne.

8. The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.

Many quotes, much practical advice.

9. Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t, by Steven Pressfield.

“Your sh*t is that nobody wants to hear your self-centered, ego-driven, unrefined demands for attention.” –Steven Pressfield

And it is more, “Believe in yourself when no one else on the planet shares that belief.

10. Brain Storm by Don Hahn

A Disney Imagineer writes on Unleashing Your Creative Self


Read these people, then put your pen to page and kick some ass.