11/16/2010

Bookshelf

Thought it might be interesting to write about my bookshelf. Okay, maybe not all the books on my shelves, or even the books I can see right now, but the ones I'm sorta mostly reading 'cause their helping me with writing and living.

I picked up The Writing Diet by Julia Cameron first because I loved working with The Artist's Way in 1997 and because I was surprised to find a book that combined writing and dieting that wasn't... all hype... for lack of a better phrase. I've been smaller than I am now and with certain genetic predispositions to long-term debilitating diseases running in my family tree, I thought the book would be a good way to look at both my writing and my diet in a new way.

The basics are similar to The Artist's Way - Morning Pages, Journaling, making writing a practice - but Cameron includes anecdotes about how non-writers have used the method to drop weight. Basically, writing gave each of them a chance to have a voice and to face their dilemmas with open eyes, instead of chewing jaws. She notes that "Very often you will find that you are eating instead of taking a creative action." (p. 16) So what would happen if instead of snacking or stress eating, I could realize that I need to do something creative. Not sure how this will play out during my work day when whipping out my journal might be bit conspicuos, but just the idea that I'm eating to stifle a creative moment opens up a whole new way of thinking.

I'm taking the book slow, a chapter at a time and only moving on if I do the habit/practice she recommends for at least a few days.

This seems to be working too for the other book on my desk, The Writer's Portable Mentor by Priscilla Long. I resisted picking up this book for a few weeks because I figured between school and the ... let's not get into exactly how many self-help writing books I own... books I already have on the topic, I really didn't need one more book. What I'm liking about Long's book, though is how she approaches writing as a whole craft, not just Here's how to write a memoir, or Here's how to write a short story. More plot arc! Less abstraction! Here's an exercise and you'll figure out what it means later!

Instead, she's a very practical writer who also begins like Cameron - write every day. That's the basic, and the reason why I'm here back on the blog. Next, she suggests creating a lexicon of cool words, ways of being concrete with descriptions. I gather from her examples (I mean who outside of Washington State knows what the Duwamish is?) that she's local to me, but instead of being compelled to take every class she offers so I can learn at the feet of the master, I'm again, taking it a chapter at a time, seeing where it takes me. So far, so good.

Other titles on my desk:

The Best American Essays 2009 and 2005
THe Power of Memoir by Linda Myers
Fearless Confessions by Sue William Silverman
Now Write! Nonfiction, Sherry Ellis, Ed.
The Weekend Novelist by Robert J. Ray and Bret Norris (who I gather are also local to me)
Living to Tell the Tale by Jane Taylor McDonnel
Leaving a Trace by Alexandrea Johnson
The Situation and the Story by Vivian Gornick
Writing the Sacred Journey by Elizabeth J. Andrew
An Introduction to Babayin by Christian Cabuay
The Girl Who Fell from the Sky and Other Classic Philippine Legends retold by Maria Elena Paterno
Lores and Myths of Mindoro by Florante D. Villarica (a friend of my father's)

They're on my desk because I'm either using them now, or find them comforting to have close. A little farther away but still in my peripheral vision:

Writing Past Dark by Bonnie Friedman
Relief, Vol. 4, Iss. 1
Kapwa: The Self in the Other by Katrin De Guia
A manual for a Canon PowerShot G6

Yep, my desk is crowded, but it all comes into play with the tabs I have open on my computer:

Facebook
Top 10 Must Have Apps for the iPad
9 Chickweed Lane
Yahoo Mail
Blogger
Comet Hale-Bopp
Edwelda's Universe (open to a passage on Hale-Bopp)
Deep Impact (also about Hale-Bopp)
You Who Stand at the Doorway Come In
Blockbuster Plots: Scene Tracker Template

I guess I shouldn't be surprised to find evidence again that I'm a data hound. The stuck part is getting all that data arranged into something I think is creative and self-expressive. This is just one arrangement, I suspect, but a way to be on the page, thinking about the Now.