Writers who Write about Writing

I was recently asked if there were any movies or books about authors that I turn to for inspiration when I am stuck.  The direct answer to this question is no, for two reasons.  First, I do not know of any movies or books that share the story of an author, although I am certain they exist.  Second, and bigger, I find it more useful to separate myself from other people when searching for inspiration.  My solution when I’m stuck is to take a hike (literally) or go camping, some activity where I am isolated and silent, something that requires activity but limited thinking.  Nature clears my thoughts and resets my creativity.

It occurred to me, however, that while I do not read about other authors to help with my story, there are three books about writing that helped me bridge the gap between ideas and actual writing.  Two of these books were required reading for a class in my master’s program; looking back I am certain that these were very much part of why I wrote my novel while also working on my degree.  The inspiration to write that flowed from these books made it almost impossible for me to ignore the compulsion.  These books are Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg and Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury.  Both of these authors celebrate the joy and struggle of writing, and their advice is clear and driving.  If you are thinking about beginning the process, start here.  They will inspire and guide you.

The other book that I consider part of my nudge into writing was a gift from my mother.  My mom has always nurtured the writer in me; in fact, it was her off-hand comment “write your book” (said during a conversation about kitchens in the Container Store) that pushed me into starting my novel.  The best part of this anecdote – I hadn’t told her anything about my book idea, yet she knew there was one inside of me.  The book she gave me is called Novel Voices, edited by Jennifer Levasseur and Kevin Rabalais.  It is a collection of interviews with 17 novelists, about their process, their books, and their adventures in getting published.  It’s like having your own paperback mentor. 

Writers who write about writing take the next step, going past creating their own worlds and stories to delve into the guts of the process.  The authors who wrote these books have my gratitude for leading me down the path to becoming an author.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Miriam Sagan
    Feb 23, 2011 @ 22:58:01

    I love Natalie’s book, but the Bradbury was news to me–will check it out.


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