Post by Jenny
I find myself in a state of disbelief that this is my final Last Monday Book post of the year, but seeing as how next Monday is January 2, it must be true. I’ve enjoyed exploring several new-to-me writing books and hope you have found something useful in these posts. This week’s book—Off the Page: Writers Talk About Beginnings, Endings, and Everything In-Between, by Carole Burns—seemed an appropriate title for this month when we are simultaneously bringing the old year to a close and plotting great things for the new one.
The book compiles many of the interviews author/editor Carole Burns conducted for washingtonpost.com’s “Off the Page,” The Washington Post’s online literary chat show. From the preface: “The combination of the freewheeling nature of the online world and the serious tone of the questions both loosened up authors and gave them the time and inclination to provide thoughtful answers.”
The informal format makes for a very fun read. Every page offers nuggets of wisdom, of inspiration, of decisions that might have been made differently, of celebration…and frustration. Reading the contributors’ thoughts on subjects such as "Haven’t I Seen You Somewhere Before? How Characters Come To Life" and "All That Jazz: Playing with Language and Style to Suit the Story" very much feels like sitting around a table listening to famous writers talk about their art over cappuccinos or greasy pub food.
General inspiration aside, what I found most helpful about the book was seeing that there is no right way to write. Sure, there are rules to follow, but the process can be as personal and unique as everyone who has ever sat down and said, “I want to be a writer.” If it works for you, do it, and don’t let anyone tell you you’re doing it wrong. And keep doing it. In the final chapter, Richard Bausch writes: “…there’s only one question to ask yourself every day: ‘Did you write today?’ if the answer’s yes, it’s the only question you have to ask.” If the answer’s no, then I imagine the next question should be “why not?”
Now it’s time for me to finish up the last few items on my Christmas to-do list. (Yes, I know Christmas was yesterday. It’s a blogging time-warp.) I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season, and I thank you all for spending time with me this year!