Greetings, WEbook nation. Or rather, hi again. Some of you might remember me from my former incarnation, JohnnyWEbook. That was before I left it all behind for my two great loves: writing and my girlfriend. Now I spend more time with both (sometimes too much with the former, to the consternation of the latter).
So I’m doing it, the writing life, for real, finally. After a decade as a book editor, a few stints as a freelance magazine writer, a memoir that netted me an agent and got me close to a deal at a major publisher, then a novel that lost me that agent and which I’m re-working now. I am you, him, her, us—a writer trying to get it together because doing just about anything else makes me unhappy. And that’s why I’m here on the WEbook blog, to share my thoughts and experiences. Because we’re all the same—just at different points on the journey. Like many of you I haven’t been blessed with that big break yet (read: a book deal), but I’m not giving up.
I’ll be contributing a post every two weeks or so. Each one will be (loosely) dedicated to a topic germane to the writing life—i.e., habits, pitfalls, getting published, finding your voice, expectations, etc.—but ideally they’ll only be starting points for discussion (use the comments area below; I’ll jump in from time to time if I can add something useful). Also, please feel to ask me whatever questions you want, either below or to me directly on WEbook mail (penname: JohnnyM). I’ll do my best to answer them promptly. If I don’t have the answers, I’ll find them or even interview an expert on the subject and post it here.
As for my thoughts on writing, I believe there are countless ways to skin the literary cat. The only thing that matters in the end is to write, to keep putting words on the page, the screen, a blog, napkins at a coffee shop, whatever. That’s one of my few universal beliefs about writing: you need to do it in order to get better. And it’s hard and it takes time and discipline, but it’s oh so rewarding. (Ask Corey if you don’t believe me.)
In the spirit of this, I’d like to talk about reading and its importance to writing. For me, it’s crucial to always be reading as a way to fuel my writing. Sometimes it’s a matter of simply learning new vocabulary, picking up a stylistic trick, a fresh way to open a chapter or a POV device I haven’t seen before. I don’t steal stuff outright, but I occasionally modify and mimic what I’ve seen used by established writers.
The book I’m reading now is The Savage Detectives, by Roberto Bolano. It’s a plot-less romp about a pair of Latin American poets in the seventies and eighties as they travel around the world searching for truths. It’s sort of slow-going to be honest, but as I’m currently living in a Latin American country I find it fascinating.
What are you reading and how is it affecting/inspiring you?