Thursday, April 15, 2010

Most Important Books for Writers

e I've been following with interest a thread on the Twitter/blog of Nathan Bransford, an agent with a lot of interesting thoughts, about what ONE book does a writer need?

The replies veer off into writing books, of which Stephen King's has been recommended the most often. Personally, I like William Zinser's On Writing Well, and several others of his books, far better.

But Nathan himself said it was The Great Gatsby. I suppose nothing is more inspiring than a great novel you can return to year after year, seeing new layers of meaning each time. People who teach great literature have this experience, and writers can too if they reread great books every so often. Others suggested The Bible (diversity of plots and characters), The Complete Works of Shakespeare (same but also the writing), The Sun Also Rises, Of Mice and Men. I would consider Little Women, Mrs. Dalloway, Pride and Prejudice but probably would choose a book of Chekhov's short stories.

Anyone out there have a favorite to suggest?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Going somewhere else

Nothing is better for me as a writer than traveling; I give up all my sitting time and take close looks at everything around me. What an amazing insect. Oh, look at that odd colored rose. People talk funny here. What's a flat white? Or a long black? (Aussie slang for coffee orders, it turns out). Is it dangerous to walk along the coast path here? Everyone says, "Ah, no." Can I trust that advice? So much of connotation and inflection need familiarity. If you're not from here, do you really "get it?" Probably not. Fun seems more fun when you are away. At home, it would definitely not be fun to have my bus break down in the rain, but in Sydney, it was an adventure. My energy level went way up from all this stimulation, and luckily it stayed high even after I came back home. Do you find the same? Or are you always at the same high (or low) pitch of energy and observation?