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Books about writing

Reading books about writing is:

(a) a fun pastime;
(b) something to do when you aren't actually writing;
(c) inspiring;
(d) depressing;
(e) all of the above.

You might think the answer is (b), since the longest answer on multiple choice questions is frequently the correct one, but it is, in fact, (e) "all of the above."

Yesterday evening, before heading off to the movies, my hubby and I spent a few hours in (where else?) Barnes & Noble. He sat on the floor in an aisle somewhere and read about thyroid conditions until his foot fell asleep. I checked out slow-cooker cookbooks (got me a FANTASTIC one called Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Cookbook, chockfull of stuff I will actually make -- no really, don't scoff at me, I've got minestrone cooking even as I type!), picked up a small book called Heavy Words Lightly Thrown: The Seamy and Quirky Stories Behind Favorite Nursery Rhymes, which includes a footnote-based glossary at the end including an entry for "Tranny" that not only defines it as slang for transvestite, but carefully notes that it should not be confused with "Trinnie" from England's "What Not to Wear"), and searched out Lew Hunter's Screenwriting 434, based on blog entries by d_michiko_f. Hence, this post.

I started taking a look at it, and it seems sensible and practical and good. Useful for us regular writers, not just screenwriters. I'm psyched to read it, try some of the suggestions, etc., etc. However, I can't help but feel a bit like a complete novice who cannot write and will never, ever amount to anything when I pick up this type of book. It's got so much to tell you to do, and it all fits in this volume you can hold in your hands easily, yet it requires a tremendous amount of WORK on your part to actually go through it. It's not just Lew Hunter, either. Anastasia Suen's Picture Writing elicited the same response, as does Evan Marshall's The Marshall Plan for Novel Writing. The advice seems good and sound and reasonable as you read it, but egads! there's too much to be done. As always, however, it comes down to actually writing. Typing counts, too.


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 28th, 2005 04:59 pm (UTC)
work. . .
It is all work. Cooking is work. Writing is work. Reading to gain data you must process and apply is work.

So what I think I need is a slow cooker for all that text that I need to learn. I can just drop one book in at a time, and by the end of the day, I will be ready to enjoy it, absorb it, and in the morning, fix something else. :) If only it was that simple. . .
Aug. 28th, 2005 05:28 pm (UTC)
I agree
Okay, I'm definitely going to look for that cookbook. I am SO in a cooking rut right now, I hate, hate, hate it! I have a slow cooker and hardly ever use it. I wonder if my library has it?

And I agree, it can be depressing.

Aug. 28th, 2005 07:13 pm (UTC)
Re: I agree
The book came out this year. What I like so much about it is that it uses all fresh ingredients to make yummy-sounding stuff. I have a medium, oval Rvial Crockpot, but am leaving to head to Target to buy a small, round one so that I can make "porridge". You heard me, this cookbook has a bunch of different recipes for cooking hot cereal in your crock. This makes me happier than you could possibly imagine.

If, however, you like the ease of using prepared ingredients, Better Homes & Gardens has a new one out that does that quite a bit. But no cereal. And definitely no jam or pumpkin butter recipes.
Aug. 28th, 2005 07:50 pm (UTC)
I think you should be careful
(talkin' about the writing book, not the slow-cooker ones-ha!)

If reading it gets you jazzed, oh-boy!, I-can't-wait-to-try-this, then I think it's a writing book that speaks to you. But if it's depressing or seems overwhelmingly too much, then maybe you can skip that part.

I think people get way too hung up on rules regarding writing, anyway.
Aug. 29th, 2005 12:09 am (UTC)
Re: I think you should be careful
A fine point, wisely made. In fact, the books tend to get me jazzed to try the stuff, but I'm in "overwhelmed" mode in most areas of life right this moment (you know the drill -- house is a mess, kids need attention, laundry seems to have been mating, etc.)
Aug. 28th, 2005 09:24 pm (UTC)
I feel exactly the same way about Robert McKee's book STORY. I have it, people rave to me about it, but I feel dumb when I try to read it, like I don't know anything. I agree with Dot that if a book doesn't make you feel good, let it go. It's like teachers, not every writing teacher will make the connection with you. It's okay to pass on some of them.
Aug. 28th, 2005 11:18 pm (UTC)
I'd have to pick E too. And by the way, I love my crock pot. It's a life saver some days.
Aug. 29th, 2005 08:19 pm (UTC)
What in the...
Dude- what nursery rhyme has "tranny" or even the slightest mention of transvestism? (transvesticism?)
(You are so not a "dude", I just had to use it) :)
Aug. 29th, 2005 08:50 pm (UTC)
Re: What in the...
The particular rhyme doesn't have anything to do with it, but the explanation of the historical facts behind the rhyme includes the reference after explaining all about Pretender-to-the-throne James Stuart, who was smuggled out of England dressed as a woman.

The book is highly entertaining, as you may have guessed.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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