Joanne Harris knows a thing or two about writing, as a world renown author and the Chair of the Society of Authors. I was delighted to discover her book about writing. I love it when people are generous in sharing their knowledge.
The book will take you into the insights of the writing process from start to the publication and beyond. It will unveil the secrets of what makes a story, characterisation and detailing. And it is all written with honesty and no-non-sense. Joanne is incredibly encouraging towards aspiring writers: “Remember, … , that just writing is an act of bravery. You have the courage to do what it takes to give your voice the chance to be heard. Don’t do it because you want to be the next J.K. Rowling, or Maya Angelou, or Margaret Atwood. Those are already taken. Do it because your voice is unique. Only you can take this chance. No one else will ever be you, or tell your story the way you can”.
After this book, I also realized that I am more demanding as a reader. Joanne is right. If after 10 pages I am not fully absorbed by the story or if the author states the obvious (“the rain is wet” ), I will close the book and look for something else to read.
I found the central idea of the book in these lines “creative power is in all of you if you give it just a little time; if you believe in it a little bit and watch it come quietly into you; if you do not keep it out by always hurrying and feeling guilty in those times when you should be lazy and happy.”
The book requires a certain openness to spirituality to inhale some of the book’s ideas especially on reason and inspiration and concepts like that.
Brenda Ueland is convinced that we all can and shall write: “But if (as I wish) everybody writes and respects and loves writing, then we would have a nation of intelligent, eager, impassioned readers; and generous and grateful ones, not mere critical, logy, sedentary passengers, observers of writing, whose attitude is: “All right: entertain me now.” Wouldn’t that be truly great? I think so.
She takes a strong stance on critics and argues her case, quite persuasively. Among the many reasons she gives: “Another reason I don’t like critics (the one in myself as well as in other people) is that they try to teach something without being it.”
So, if you want to write you’ll find a supporter in this book. If you are already writing, you might find yourself coming back to the 12 pieces of warm advice this book concludes with.