Exfoliation

As a writer who writes mainly about writing, I am acutely sensitive to the distasteful genre of “the writing guide” and its ability to inspire with about the same efficacy as most student essays on abortion and flag burning.  Having willingly victimized myself by acquiring many fatally written, soporific volumes that helped my writer’s block about as much as a dose of Imodium AD, I am compiling a list of veritable gems that are guaranteed to keep things moving.  Check these out . . .

My new “acid test” for deciding whether to purchase yet another book about writing is this: Is this author actually a successful writer whose work I want to read or just another snake oil salesman on The New Age Workshop Circuit? Love him or hate him, Stephen King is unquestionably God in this category and his masterwork on the craft, On Writing, is one of the best guides you’ll ever read.  Plus, you get to find out all about his rock band with Amy Tan, Dave Barry, and Barbara Kingsolver.

What Clooney does for perimenopausal women, Anne Lamott does for writers.  If you acquire one book, make it Bird by Bird.  Pay special attention to the chapter on “the shitty first draft.”  This chapter constituted a personal turning point for me and, I suspect, will for every other blocked writer on the planet.

If you need help unpacking the story of why you can’t write, Jane Anne Straw’s helpful guide, Unstuck:  A Supportive and Practical Guide to Working Through Writer’s Block, costs way less than a therapist.  Of course, you can’t have any exciting transference daydreams about it and it won’t shove a foot halfway up your ass if you lie to it.  So, it has some drawbacks.

While technically not a “writer’s guide,” Haruki Murakami’s What I Talk About When I Talk About Running is, perhaps, the best book for a writer, recently turned 42, who becomes near-suicidal after realizing she has not yet penned the magnum opus that would secure her place in literary history for all time and eternity. Quiet and brilliant, this little book by Murakami shows how much his writing practice depends upon his running regimen.  And, as someone with a vein of anti-athleticism deep enough to relish the fact that she was perenially picked last even for for such pseudo-sports as “Red Rover,” this book made her think she should go buy a new pair of New Balance to help invigorate that TV series she’s been trying to write for the last two years.

More porn, please!

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One thought on “Exfoliation

  1. Fantastic blog! Do you have any suggestions for aspiring writers?
    I’m hoping to start my own site soon but I’m a little lost on everything.
    Would you suggest starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are
    so many options out there that I’m completely overwhelmed ..
    Any tips? Thanks a lot!

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