June 1, 2012

On Writing

More like on writing to live and living to write.

This guy has been to the edge and back and this was the book he was working on when he went there.

The first part is semi-autobiographical. Snapshots, he calls them, of moments that kind of bent him towards the writing life. Excellent description.

The middle is the main points he has to say about the craft of reading and writing.  It not just about the writing. He goes in depth about what you should notice when you're reading and this is one of the reasons this is our next book club pick.  Whether you want to write or not, this will also make you a much more aware reader. It a brief but rich section which includes some brief exercises, the most important tools you'll need as a writer, and some good examples.  At the back matter of the book he expands on this by adding a first and second draft of a part of one of his stories, to make some of his nuts and bolts advice clear.  Then, he tops it off with a book list of general recommended reading.

The final section of the main part of the book is his memories of his near-fatal accident. It occurred just after he had written out an outline of questions he wanted to answer in the second half of the manuscript of On Writing. He goes on to describe how this book, his writing, and especially his wife Tabitha helped get him back to the land of the living, so to speak.  He needed to write this.

As he puts it, "Life isn't a support system for art. It's he other way around."

Looking forward to the discussion of this at the end of the month.