Thursday, July 26, 2007

A Writer's Ambivalence


I'm about two-thirds of the way through the book, Writing The Breakout Novel, by Donald Maass, and I already have a love-hate relationship with it. For those of you who aren't writers, Maass is a highly successful literary agent and this book is considered a classic in the "how to write" genre. I'd been meaning to read it for some time, but my agent heard Maass speak recently and strongly recommended the book. So I bought it and started reading, and it's changed me already.

When I go to a writers' conference, I always end up alternating between feelings of "Yes, let me get writing. I'm inspired!" and "There's no way I can ever measure up to that standard." Well, magnify that a dozen times, and that's the way I feel after reading each chapter by Maass. I'll do another post later, commenting on the salient features of the book, but the short version is he encourages you to take everything to a deeper level--the conflict, the plot, the characters, even the setting. He does it through gentle instruction and pertinent examples, and every time I put the book down I want to run to the computer and work on my next novel. Then, when I compare what I've written with the examples of breakout works he quotes, I feel like Woody Allen at a World's Strongest Man competition.

But, I guess that's part of writing. So, I'll keep on reading and keep on trying. I hope you'll do the same.

1 comment:

Ane Mulligan said...

Ah, but Richard, we ALL feel the same. I just reviewed Allison Bottke's new book, One Little Secret. I emailed her to tell her how much I loved it, and she came back with the same remark.

You just don't know if you've done it or not. So don't think once you're published you'll feel different. LOL Because then your writing is out there for ALL to see. :o)