Thursday, September 25, 2008

Book Review: Making A Literary Life by Carolyn See

I've got to say this book had a huge impact on me as a writer. It's not so much about the technical aspects of writing as it is about pursuing the literary life you've dreamed of. And she does it with a generous sprinkling of wit while hitting home with the blatant truth. For instance, she tells us "Your girlfriend, boyfriend, or spouse will put up with this writer-talk for weeks, months, or even years, but none of them will love your for it. Your writing, to them, is like a case of genital herpes. It's possible for them to love you, but they'll have to overlook the writing."

She's divided the book into three parts. Part One tells you how to find your voice and genre. It also sets you on a path to writing a thousand words a day, five days a week for the rest of your life. Part Two is more about the mechanics of writing. But it is served up with a healthy dose of wit Part Three will guide you through the publication and marketing of your first book.

This isn't your typical regimented, chart driven, writing book filled with exercises, bullet points and side bars. It's more like having a conversation with the author. I can say this because I had the pleasure of speaking to Carolyn See and she is as charming in her book as she is to speak to.

One thing she insists on is that you write Charming Notes to someone in the publishing industry five days a week. Not to ask for anything but to simply share your appreciation of them. I'll admit that I was completely freaked out the first time I sent one of these notes out into the world. (On my personalized stationary as Carolyn suggested.) I was pleasantly surprised to receive letters from Sue Grafton and Janet Evanovich within the first couple of weeks. Since then I've not been afraid to approach any famous author and speak to them. After all they're writers just like us.

Thanks for the inspiration Carolyn!!

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