Saturday, July 31, 2010

10 Reasons to Write (or Not) a Book About Writing


I woke up thinking about reasons to write a book about writing. The slant of light behind lemon curtains and room-darkening shades told me to go back to sleep. It was too early to think about such things.

By 6 a.m., my thoughts were so loud I had to leave my warm, ivory cotton sheets to make a list of reasons (to do or not to do). The list is not a promise, it is a question.

1. I wonder if writing about writing might make me a better writer— it seemed to work for Anne Lamott and Annie Dillard

2. It is so predictable— a writer writing a book about writing

3. A handful of my favorite books are... books about writing

4. Is there a writing quota one must meet before writing a book about writing? Maybe I haven't met it.

5. I should write about what I want to write about. I have always wanted to write a book about... you guessed it :)

6. There is nothing new under the sun. Why do I think I will uncover something fresh? (Note to self: writing in place may be the key)

7. In Bradley's comment box, I said I wasn't going to write another book for a good long time. I should stick with my story.

8. People have enormous expectations when they open a book about writing. What if I disappoint people? (I think I am getting ahead of myself here.)

9. My daughter thinks I write boring books (translation: I don't write sci-fi fantasy). What if I disappoint my daughter by choosing to write on yet another non-fiction subject?

10. I am too busy to write a book about writing. This is an excuse of course. But it may be a good one.

My list is not a promise. It is a question. I'm trying to remember it's perfectly within my rights to answer it any which way I want— yes or no... or perhaps, maybe.

Fireworks photo, by L.L. Barkat.

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Blogger Sandra Heska King said...

Hmmm. God calling? Better not disappoint Him. Who cares about anyone else?

Except me. Cuz I'd me disappointed if you didn't.

Write. Nuff said. ;)

7:34 AM  
Blogger Kelly Sauer said...

*grin* you could write a fiction book about writing...

or your writing story. which just would be cool.

ditto what Sandra said.

7:43 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...


8:25 AM  
Blogger SimplyDarlene said...

(fists thumping a timely rhythm on my desktop) I second what has already been said.

Where do we click to find your answers? Or is the answer already obvious from each subsequent question? hmmm


9:34 AM  
Blogger TUC said...

As long as is isn't intimidating, doesn't contain homework assignments, and makes me a better writer simply by my reading it, GO FOR IT!

9:38 AM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

Maybe this has stewed long enough. And from reading other books on it, you surely have a good idea as to how you want to approach it and all you want to include.

I agree with the others. You should go for it. Maybe this being on your mind and heart as it is, is an impetus that way. And maybe we can push you over the edge, that being what we're supposed to do! :)

10:50 AM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

Sorry about all my "maybe's". It must reflect something about me. It takes time to work through things though, and I'm glad you do so, L.L., in community. I wish I had done far more of that in my life.

10:52 AM  
Anonymous Lyla Lindquist said...

I love TUC's comment. (I'm still waiting for the writing book that will make me a better writer just by having known someone who read it. That said, this is one I would read, of course.)

And I'm wondering how much better we could process these things that wake us if we slid out of bed more often to break it out into a series of questions. (not promises)

11:17 AM  
Blogger Jennifer @ said...

Can we handle this democratically, by committee?

All in favor say "aye..."

Yep, looks like the ayes have it. :-)

11:19 AM  
Blogger Mommy Emily said...

i would buy it. :)

11:43 AM  
Anonymous Bradley J. Moore said...

You're certainly prolific enough...I know you could do it, and a good job. BTW, I am at chapter 3 on God in the Yard, and all I can say is, what a relief. It's such a refreshing view on spiritual discipline. You even admit to falling asleep and dozing off? HALLELUIA!!

But I'm with you big on "Maybe" when it comes to the book idea.

That's the camp I am in, although after reading Pressfield's "The War of Art," I feel that if there's an idea brewing in me somewhere, I MUST do it. The gods demand it. Or, in our case, God may have put that on our hearts. (I almost prefer Pressfield's way of saying this better!)

4:03 PM  
Blogger sarah said...

Personally I don't like books on how to write, and as a writer I never read them. I have lots of reasons for that. But I love books that describe writers' experiences of writing, and often find them inspirational in terms of my own writing, as well as entertaining.

But my opinion is of no importance - the only opinion that counts is yours, since you will be the one doing the work! Write what you want to write. Otherwise you're unlikely to write at all :-)

4:58 PM  
Anonymous Jane Friedman said...

Found your post through Twitter (@ficwriter). I work at Writer's Digest, and understand the dilemma! But if you decide you want to do it, we'd love to see your proposal.

I wrote my own personal blog post about the paradoxical nature of writing a book about writing, which you can find here:

10:22 PM  
Blogger S. Etole said...

you need to write ... right?

11:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

a list question?
you're thinking to hard on this, girl!

how about writing a book about writing a book about writing?

1:15 AM  
Blogger Michelle Gregory said...

i'm so glad to know there are other writers whose minds go back and forth on a question. thank you.

2:55 PM  
Anonymous Jim Martin said...

L.L., just read your post and skimmed through these comments.

Hope you will write the book. You have something to say. What you have to say will be worth reading and will be read.

Just some encouragement. :)

8:46 AM  
Blogger Heather Mattern said...

As Emily stated, "I would buy it" :)

1:36 PM  
Blogger izzy said...

Indeed- write and keep writing- Thanks for the book suggestions. Spirit and childhood, poetry and prose; however it comes out is grand.

12:11 PM  
Blogger Linda said...

I'm here from Glynn's. I thought I had commented on this post when I first read it, but I see I must have only thought about it :-)
In any case, I'd like to pre-order that book too! I love to read books about writing (if only I would get down to the real writing!)

10:33 PM  

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