From Kate’s Writing Crate…
I think anyone interested in becoming a writer should read Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, and Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity by Ray Bradbury.
These books will also energize anyone who is already a writer. I often pick one of them up, flip open to a random page, read for a while then jump into writing.
In Zen in the Art of Writing, Ray Bradbury not only encourages writing, he also shares his story of becoming a writer then working hard to become a better writer. Read his work. His dedication and creativity are astounding.
He’s inspiring—hard not to be when he begins his essay “The Joy of Writing” on page 3 with:
Zest. Gusto. How rarely one hears these words used. How rarely do we see people living, or for that matter, creating by them. Yet if I were asked to name the most important items in a writer’s make-up, the things that shape his material and rush him along the road to where he wants to go, I could only warn him to look to his zest, see to his gusto.
Bradbury notes on page 13:
In quickness is truth. The faster you blurt, the more swiftly you write, the more honest you are. In hesitation is thought. In delay comes the effort for a style, instead of leaping upon the truth which is the only style worth deadfalling or tiger-trapping.
Tiger-trapping. How exciting that makes writing sound! We are brave. Capturing truth. Following wherever our creativity leads us. Zest and gusto indeed!
However, sometimes writing is a quieter craft as seen in one of my favorite essays, “How to Keep and Feed a Muse” on page 31. On pages 32 & 33, Bradbury states:
…to keep a Muse, you must first offer food. How you can feed something that isn’t there is a little hard to explain. But we live surrounded by paradoxes…
…in a lifetime, we stuff ourselves with sounds, sights, smells, tastes, and textures of people, animals, landscapes, events…These are the stuffs, the foods, on which The Muse grows.
…Here is the stuff of originality. For it is the totality of experience reckoned with, filed, and forgotten, that each man is truly different from all others in the world.
Bradbury also makes this recommendation to writers on page 36:
Read poetry every day of your life…it flexes muscles you don’t use often enough…it expands the senses and keeps them in prime condition.
In this book, I discovered Ray Bradbury also wrote poetry. Eight of his poems are in the back of the book including my favorite “What I Do Is Me—For That I Came for Gerard Manley Hopkins” on page 137. I think a framed copy should be in every nursery and read nightly to every child so he or she can be “the only you that’s truly you on Earth.”
For a writer or not, that’s the best life goal.