Writing Instead of Reading

Cover of "The Huffington Post Complete Gu...
Cover via Amazon

Here’s what I wanted to read today:

Self Editing For Fiction Writers: How to Edit Yourself Into Print by Renni Browne and Dave King

For obvious reasons. It’s already helped me immeasurably with its first instruction on narrative summary and how writers overuse it. Turns out I’d written an entire story using large chunks of narrative summary, and I didn’t even realize it. I was surprised I’d used so much narrative summary given all the practice I get writing screenplay scenes. I’ve gone back to the story to create more scenes in real time. It’s much better now, or it will be.  In the long run, the screenwriting will help me write better short stories. And so will the book Self Editing…when I can get to it. There’s nothing like being down deep in a screenplay rewrite to make me want to work on my short stories.

The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging by the editors of the Huff Post and Create Your Own Blog: 6 Easy Projects to Start Blogging Like a Pro by Tris Hussey

Again, for obvious reasons. These two books helped me plan and get started. But I’ve also learned through experience you create your blog by writing a post every week. That deadline, even self-imposed, comes up fast, especially if you have a day job and if you’re working on other writing, as well. So far, it’s scary and fun. Weird and normal. Weird to put out work that’s unfinished, raw, on the fly. Normal, because it captures the authentic flow of life and writing every week.

The Anatomy of a Story: 22 Steps to Becoming a Master Storyteller by John Truby

I’m yearning to start a new script, and I think this is the book to crack open for that purpose. I want someone to tell me how to do it, get me started. But I’m at a place where I need to listen to my own voice and just write. This is the last rewrite before I post the script on Inktip.com and hopefully sell it fast! I’m going to use this wonderful Truby book as a reward when I’m finished.

Train Dreams: A Novella by Denis Johnson

I read a moving review in The New York Times by Anthony Doerr on this Johnson novella that made me want to run out and buy it and read it immediately. I ended up putting a hold on it at the library, and I’ll go pick it up tomorrow. Doerr writes this about the book, “It’s a love story, a hermit’s story and a refashioning of age-old wolf-based folklore like “Little Red Cap.” It’s also a small masterpiece. You look up from the thing dazed, slightly changed.”  He also compares it in the beginning of the piece to your favorite “most devastating” place in nature, that you want to share and keep safe at the same time. I’m there. Reading it tomorrow. Can’t wait. The review is wonderfully written, too. Check it out.

Instead of reading all these books I got tons of writing done today. Maybe I’ll read a little before sleep tonight. Big work day tomorrow and hopefully tons of writing, too. But I’ll hit the library early and pick up Train Dreams in hopes of getting to it.

My sis, Kim, studied acting at The University of Texas at Austin (and got her BFA there). The great Sam Shepard visited her playwriting class. One of the students asked him which playwrights he reads. Shepherd answered, “I don’t read plays. I write them.” That quote can float me along while I’m writing but having a hard time getting in all the reading I want to do. For me, it’s writing first, the great, wonderful, difficult, wrenching work. Reading is the reward and inspiration for the labor of writing.

Do you read when you’re writing? What are you reading today? What are you looking forward to reading?

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6 thoughts on “Writing Instead of Reading

  1. atkinsgilbert

    Boooooooooooks. I think I need to get that self-editing book. Might come just in time. I’m only inspired to write when I’m reading. It’s binge-y. One feeds the other. I need to figure that out. I need to write every day. I LONG to write every day. After working 7am to 7pm at the store today, I’m going to try for a paragraph. Some days lately, it’s all I can conjur. Right now I’m reading short stories by Alice Munro, Raymond Carver, Ann Beattie, Elizabeth Gilbert, Jennifer Egan and a new book of stories I just bought called, “The Book of Life” by Stuart Nadler. Munro and Carver are nice because they are quick reads. Morsels. Also, spending time every night with Conversations with Ernest Hemingway. I never really liked that thing Sam Shepard said. I think it sounds kinda arrogant. I admit I’m enamoured with descriptions of or pictures of writers’ homes, especially when there are stacks and stacks of books laying about in every room. Just read an interview with said Ernest where the interviewer describes his house (books everywhere: floors, shelves, in every room. Remember all the books everywhere at Eudora’s place!?) and HOW he writes: standing, he writes longhand with a pencil on sheets of white tracing paper fastened to a clipboard. When he fills (oops,present tense) a page he pulls off that sheet, turns it over and stacks it beneath his desk. I just can’t get enough. Still, if I had a written page for every chapter I’ve ever read…well. Maybe I’d be my own boss sipping coffee in the morning, gearing up for my day of work twenty feet away from my coffee press, at my white desk.

    I love your posts, Kel! Fun!

    • atkinsgilbert

      I always kinda thought, “Really? You don’t EVER read plays?” Of course now, thinking about it, I’m interested in reading interviews with him and knowing more about his process. Also, now, today!, I’m gonna find his short stories and read those. I don’t think I’ve read one. Might be launched on my next kick. A Sam Shepard kick. Also, I’m all interested now in his play Buried Child; I just read that was his Pulitzer winner. What I’ve just read about it (I’m going to read it!) is resonating with me because of what’s going on themewise in the story I’m writing. Kismet!

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