Saturday, May 7, 2011

Writing about writing

Shadow of a Writing HandIn honor of Mother's Day, I need to take a moment to pick on my mother; it's a talent of mine. Don't worry. It's not that mean and it's totally true: my mother has hated Natalie Goldberg for as long as I can remember. The reason? Natalie Goldberg is known for her book Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within, but little else. Anne Lamott is in a similar situation, but my mother isn't quite as passionate about her hatred for her. Okay, Anne Lamott releases a new novel once in a while, but do people really read them? Most of my writer friends at least have a copy of Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life. I've even read it. Honestly, all I remember from it is as follows:

  • Anne Lamott is a recovering alcoholic
  • She included a funny story about trying (and failing) to teach her son to stop swearing
  • She mentions a "girl writer dress" and never explains what that is. Am I alone in having no idea what that's supposed to mean?
I don't have anything against books on writing. I enjoy reading them when I get stuck. They're often full of stories to inspire you to keep going on that story that everyone else says is totally stupid. Some of them have exercises. I love the exercises. I don't always do anything with them, but they convince me that the author really wants to help me. Sometimes, you even get a cute worksheet with the exercise. That's very special. The downside of the in-book worksheet is it's easy to let loose on the amateur psychoanalysis that comes with researching your next book and lend your copy to a friend. Uh oh.