It’s Friday, so here is another mini-book review. The book today is from the well stocked library here at the Story Factory. Because enneagram 5 has to know all the things before there can be any attempts at action, right?
A book that really resonated with me when I began trying to move from wanting to be a writer to being a writer is by Carolyn See, Making a Literary Life. I loved this book, because it wasn’t so much how to write and make sentences, but a book about building your life in such a way that you had the time and energy to do it. It’s a book in three parts, but honestly the first part alone is worth the cover price. It’s written for people who “find themselves isolated from the what we might customarily think of as the literary loop.” Written in 2002, it isn’t totally before the internet opened up the literary loop, but the idea that one needs to move to New York City if serious about pursuing writing was a bit more predominant twenty years ago.
Like other writing books, there is a “prescription” to obtaining your writing goals and she breaks it up two ways. First, as an “18 minute Chili” recipe –
1. A thousand words a day (or two hours of revision) — five days a week for the rest of your life.
2. A “charming note” (that does not ask a favor) to a writer, editor or agent you admire — five days a week for the rest of your life (or flowers, lunch, drinks, a helium balloon, etc.)
Then she presents the “18 hour Chili” recipe, which adds seven more items to the list that are not hard things, but things to remind you why you write, why you want to write, and what will happen if you write.
The rest of the book expounds on these recipes. Some of the advice goes against what is commonly heard. For example, instead of proclaiming your goals to every one around you, and posting it on the internet for the world to see, she suggests, “You know, the last thing in the world people want to hear form you, the very last thing they are interested in? The fact that you always have wanted to write, that you cherish dreams of being a writer, that you wrote something and it go rejected once, that you believe you have it in you — if only the people around you would five you a chance — to write a very credible, if not great, American novel.”
Honestly, this is great advice for the social media generation and those of us who think if there isn’t an instagram post, it didn’t happen. Shut up and do the work. Reach out to people and tell them that they are doing work that affects you. In actual words, not social media tags. (See doesn’t mention email, but I think as nice as stationary is, finding physical addresses is difficult and sometimes email can work.)
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Never heard of this book before, but now I’m intrigued. Thanks for the review!
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