Wednesday, July 24, 2013
I’m on a mission to get you to read a book. Pushy, aren’t I?
It’s my new best-friend book, one I’ve enjoyed hanging out with and can’t wait to see again: Naked, Drunk, and Writing by columnist, memoirist and writing teacher Adair Lara.
Read this book because of the author’s voice. She juggles humor, insight and information. The book is flat-out funny in parts, and catch-in-your-throat touching in others.
Read this book because Lara makes a good case for personal writing, that “every person, every selfish little clod of ailments and grievances – including you, including me—contains within himself the entire human condition.” Lara waltzes you through the specifics of personal writing: memoir, essay, humor writing and slow-dances you through craft topics including finding an angle, using set-up, narration, and revision. You end up feeling like you know the steps well enough to try them on your own.
Read this book because Lara shares her own experiences in writing memoir and is honest about mistakes she made. She distills the lessons learned so you don’t have to repeat them. She also shares excerpts by her writing students to show progression from random memory to polished piece.
Read this book because Lara is so darned encouraging. Like when she says, “Test your progress not against the outside validation of being published but against what you have learned about good writing. Am I using more images? Am I more focused? Are my themes deeper, more developed? Am I forming writerly habits? And most important—am I still having fun?”
Read this book because the Appendix alone has enough resources, reading lists, and writing exercises to keep you busy for a year.
Mostly I want you to read this book so you can feel the way I do after finishing it. I feel – dare I say believe – that I, too, can do this crazy thing called writing. And publish even! Whereas some authors bang me over the head with their expertise, leaving me stunned and tentative, Adair Lara has shown me the ropes and given me a “You can do this too” elbow in the ribs.
Okay, read it or not, it’s up to you. I can’t lend you my copy because it is all marked up and flagged with sticky notes saying: “try this in critique group” and “revisit the With All Due Respect essay using Lara’s pointers on epiphany,” etc. The paperback will probably crumble before I finish with it.
Naked, Drunk and Writing has motivated me to write, and that’s the highest praise I can give to a writing book.
Thanks Adair! Can I call you Adair? Meet me for coffee?