A rich and prolific literary lifethis is the reason why the young reader should prick up his ears, pick up The Faith of a Writer, and begin to discern the secret of JCOs success. Young or beginning writers must be urged to read widely, ceaselessly, both classics and contemporaries, for without an immersion in the history of the craft, one is doomed to remain an amateur: an individual for whom enthusiasm is ninety-nine percent of the creative effort." Which means that only readers become writersalready, this has been highlighted over and over ad nauseum by the likes of Stephen King, Francine Prose, Mario Vargas Llosa & plenty others. Again, a sigh of relief emanates from me, with JCOs advice #3. In Notes on Failure JCO wisely tells her readers that the writer is a bizarre creature (duh); some masochistically believe in the needlepoint philosophy of Beware the danger in happiness! I will admit that Ive read gems of hers, novels such as Zombie and Black Water, but blatant crap like Oprah Book Club selection We Were the Mulvaneys is so totally disappointing, especially since she was already a literary behemoth by that time, that the legend of JCO becomes completely humanand that, at least, I can empathize with.
And for her, writing (and running) is a way to negotiate that suffering and pain, with the beauty of potential, of fiction. 3. The personages in a tale shall be alive, except in the case of corpses, and that always the reader shall be able to tell the corpses from the others. 4. The personages in a tale, both dead and alive, shall exhibit a sufficient excuse for being there. 5. When the personages of a tale deal in conversation, the talk shall sound like human talk, and be talk such as human beings would be likely to talk in the given circumstances, and have a discoverable meaning, also a discoverable purpose, and a show of relevancy, and remain in the neighborhood of the subject in hand, and be interesting to the reader, and help out the tale, and stop when the people cannot think of anything more to say. 6. When the author describes the character of a personage in his tale, the conduct and conversation of that personage shall justify said description. 8. Crass stupidities shall not be played upon the reader by either the author or the people in the tale. 9. The personages of a tale shall confine themselves to possibilities and let miracles alone; or, if they venture a miracle, the author must so plausably set it forth as to make it look possible and reasonable. The author shall make the reader feel a deep interest in the personages of his tale and their fate; and that he shall make the reader love the good people in the tale and hate the bad ones. The characters in tale be so clearly defined that the reader can tell beforehand what each will do in a given emergency. Use the right word, not its second cousin. 6. Never use the words "suddenly" or "all hell broke loose." 7. 8. Avoid detailed descriptions of characters. 2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
She says "memesis." Reading this, I felt angry, bored and jealous.
If you are a writer who desires to understand more about yourself, this is a book that will open the windows to understand why you write.
One of my challenges this year is to read one essay a day. By the time I finished this book, sadly I was pretty convinced that in spite of the fact that I have been telling people for the past two year that I write memoir and personal essay, that perhaps I do not like the form at all. I have been getting more and more discouraged over the first six weeks of this year, when having read something over 45 essays I have found less than a handful that I actually liked. And, in fact, I feel the need to take responsibility for all of this myself, rather than placing the blame on the writers or the form.
All you reading-writers out there, I highly recommend!
That said, this is a great anthology of titles to which any young writer (or reader) might return in the future.
Wow. I wish I could buy a copy for every young person, especially every young woman, I know who wants to be a Writer.