If you do what you have always done, you will get what you have always had.

Friday, June 20, 2008

"A Writer's Space"

The other day, PBW posted a review of "A Writer's Space: Make Room to Dream, to Work, to Write" by Dr. Eric Maisel in her blog. Since I had to be in the vicinity of a book store later that afternoon, I scribbled down the title and stuck it in my pocket. The book store had one copy, which I happily divested them of, and I was on to the next thing.

It's a small book--about 6" square, and just shy of 250 pages, including the index and author's bio. It's a good thing, too, because this is not a straight-through read for me. There is so much information that I have to stop and digest before I can go on. I suspect it's going to live in my purse for a while and will be read and re-read in waiting rooms and grocery store lines through the summer.

So far, the chapters in section 2 have made the most sense. They deal with writing through distractions--the drippy faucet, laundry that needs to be done, and the thousand other little things that plague anyone who works at home. He doesn't even bother to mention the big stuff we all deal with--people who think that because we work at home, we don't really work, and that we live lives of leisure. He cuts right to the quick and addresses what even we don't see--that it's about choosing to write and shuffling everything else into its own time. It's about carving out a time--or several times--every day to boot up the laptop and tackle another piece of the project.

Yesterday, I got the section on writing in public. The section title is a little misleading. It's not about how to deal with the guy hovering over you in the coffee shop, offering suggestions about how your heroine can extricate herself from her latest mess. It's more about writing things as you really see them. He uses an example of a father and his children hurrying home from temple, describing how he can tell that they are going home and not to temple, that the father is distracted or upset because he's rushing the children along, pointing out that the mother is absent. As I read, I realized that I've been writing for the masses. I've been censoring myself so as not to offend anyone, and that safe writing isn't what I want to write or to read. I also need to incorporate more sensory detail--smells, colors, the bite of cold on the hero's face, the stab of fear when he hears that his girlfriend has been kidnapped.

I think this book has come to me at just the right time. It's given me some tools I was missing to get me to the next level. Too bad he doesn't have a chapter on why my cat wants to lay on my arms when I'm working and how to get them to quit. Maybe that's in his next book.

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Blogger Jean said...

Thanks. I put this in my Amazon cart last night.

The cat in your arms? S/he wants to be where the action is, and that's on your arms. Or, you could look at as a strength building exercise. The act of holding the cat up as you type accomplishes two goals -- you build arm strength, and the cat gets a massage. :)

9:31 AM  
Blogger EJ said...

Ryan doesn't care about where the action is. He just likes laps, mine especially. That and I think he's trying to make sure I have more of his fur on me than the girls'.

11:24 AM  

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