The write book at the write time…
November 21, 2010 § 8 Comments
Timing is everything.
And this book was there on my “library” stack just as I was about to flee the house rather than face down an impending deadline on a very short piece that’s giving me nothing but trouble.
HOW I WRITE THE SECRET LIVES OF AUTHORS, edited by Dan Crowe with Philip Ottermann; Rizzoli, New York: copyright 2007 was just the bridge I needed.
It’s almost coffee-table size, but not. It fits upright on a standard book shelf.
The white cover has a giant bracket with a list of all the authors inside who will be divulging.
The paper stock is superior, holds the imprint perfectly and the photos and drawings within are so book-ish, colorful, sometimes b&w, hugely appealing. To a bookaholic little writer.
There’s a Kafka quote just inside from his diary , 24 December 1910: “I had a close look at my desk just now and realized that it just wasn’t designed for quality writing.”
When you sit in a place long enough, you become very sensitive and particular about your tools – from the paper to the pen to the keyboard to the furniture you’re using.
Anyway, here’s the thing. The authors within this book are not dishing on how to write. They are talking in paragraphs about what one thing they keep around, what objects icons, totems, rituals, souvenirs or symbols they keep present as they write. And why. It’s all in their words, on one page, maybe two, with great fonts and graphics. And photos.
They’re funny, interesting, serious and sentimental.
The editors have compiled a fine work here, a glimpse into writing life. It could be a glimpse into any profession which might be equally as compelling. But on this morning when I’ve promised myself I’d snap this laptop shut by noon and be finished with my doggerel, this book is just the oomph I needed on my way to meeting a deadline.
And it would be nice on (my) coffee table. Along with some coffee, of course. (Are you listening, Santa?)
Here’s a peak at some of the pages.
I am not familiar with the author (above) but after reading his entry, have decided he’s an excellent story-teller and character writer. The “stovchen” refers to the little stove under the cup in the picture; it keeps the tea in the cup warm while he writes. (You’re going to love his entry in this book.)
I don’t know Will Self, either (do I?), but love his writing method and his Post-its all put into “zones” and then it all turns into a book.
Jane Smiley might be a Pisces. I have to look that up (not that I’m zodiac-ally inclined) but the water thing could just be an indication. Her piece is so good. You’ll hear her better in her books if you take a look at this entry.
Bourdain is brash, honest (tho’ I always feel he’s doing it for the camera, like Madonna) but this is a good piece. His “thing”, btw, is cigarettes. So ’50s.
There are plenty more, approximately 70 authors included in this book. But it’s not encyclopedic, nor is it even a tad boring. Love the format. Love the stories, true stories all.