The beta reader comments for my forthcoming novel are trickling in, and I’m almost off on one more round of editing. After two months of not looking at Beyond the Ripples, I’m surprisingly excited to take on this final edit before delivering to my publisher, Bedazzled Ink. Another edit I simply couldn’t imagine prior to sending out this almost final edition to my kind and generous beta readers.
Like a lot of writers, or wannabe writers, I spent my childhood reading. Libraries were my best friend, if in fact a building can be a best friend. I still feel my heart add an excited beat as I enter one today. I too love bookstores, as long as I don’t get overwhelmed in the flow of rooms and stacks and shelves. But libraries I understand: my fingers still remembering the touch of the card catalogues of long ago. I didn’t visit a lot of book stores in my childhood – the exception being my great-great-grandfather’s J.K. Gill Bookstore which was more about office supplies in my day. What I do remember was the thrill of Scholastic Book Clubs. I still feel dreamy as I reminisce being allowed, as a child, to select a few new (paperback) books most months. And once, when Wilsonville grade school held a costume contest to “dress as your favorite book character,” I won my grade as Puss in Boots. My initial embarrassment for falsely portraying “someone” who wasn’t really my favorite character was overshadowed by the thrill of joining a handful of other students on a trip to a bookstore to select my own new book from its shelves. (I selected Fahrenheit 451, oddly – not my usual reading genre then.)
These last two months, while I’ve been waiting for my beta reader comments, aside from posting a few blogs, I’ve forced – okay, actually allowed – myself to read over a dozen books. For, as we know, one can’t become a good writer without also avidly digesting the words of others.
Here is some of what I’ve learned…..
From The Wrong Kind of Indian by Jessica Mehta: Be gutsy in your writing. It matters.
From Children & Other Wild Animals by Brian Doyle: There is a poignant and perfect place for humor in every work and paragraph. Also, it takes a unique and talented writer to effectively craft sentences as long as a page or more. (Don’t try this yourself.)
From Maverick by Tom McCall: Inscriptions matter. So does history. And, it’s nice if you get a good book review from a friend (To readers of My Music Man, “Dick” was my grandfather “Daddy Dick,” and Dorothy my namesake and grandmother “Whowho”.)
From The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg: A sometimes hard to define fine line exists between sappy and heartfelt. One must be relentless in editing to avoid the pitfalls of missing it.
From The Small Backs of Children by Lidia Yuknavitch: It is possible to love and hate a book at the same time. We all must bring our own life stories into our writing – it is only then that we honor the diversity of thought and life through our writing.
People I Wanted to Be by Gina Ochsner: Short stories matter. As do well-written, defining details. A good writer can share a novel-worth of story-telling in very few pages.
Whew. So many books read. So lucky we are to be able to read. So many more to crack the cover of. What is next on your list?
2 thoughts on “To be a writer: read, read, read, read….”
Reading recommendations count, give me only your very best . . . you are so right, you have to read, read, read, to write. I often smile at people who think they can write a children’s book, not having read any for years.
Keep writing . . . .
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Thanks, Ginny for your comment. I would say that I have more recently read books that I wouldn’t recommend specifically because I want to see why (I think) they don’t work. I generally don’t finish them, and may read bits and parts. I love your ability to dig into history – and appreciate what you share!