I've read a lot of books in my life, but nearly as many as I would like to, or even that a few of my friends have. (I've got one friend that reads 1 or 2 books per day! I prefer lingering lovingly over the words, myself, but I do admire the accomplishment.) A few books have stuck with me over the years, some have begged to be read over and over again, and still others have had me racing to the page to pen my own. Here's a list of some of those inspiring books, in no particular order. Please comment with your own!
- Between the Bridge and the River - Craig Ferguson
I know I've mentioned this book already, but five years ago, it really was the impetus for me to make writing my primary artistic expression this round. (I go in cycles of painting, writing, and other arts for long years of patterns.)
- Walking On Alligators - Susan Shaughnessy
Back in the nineties, when my biggest challenge as a writer was getting to the page, this book of meditative gems inspired me to sit down to write, many times.
From the book description: "A daily motivator for people who write--and for all those who long to write--providing an insistent wake-up call for the creative urge, with insights on how to work against resistance, live with the loneliness, develop discipline, and dare to take deeper risks in their work."
- Anything by Jackie Collins
The fact that this shallow woman with a vocabulary of about 1200 words gets published-- repeatedly-- has often driven my confidence up in spades. If she can do it, I bloody well can, too! And better!
- The Magical Beast - Author?
I am pretty sure that was the title. Can't remember the author, and cant' find the book online. It was a paperback children's chapter book I won at the library one summer. I chose it from a table full of books, and I read it over and over and over. I was young-- maybe seven?-- when I got it, and continued to read it even in to my young adulthood. It may be in a box somewhere at my parents's house, or it may be lost forever... But I think I learned a lot about story structure from reading that tale so many times.
- What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers - Anne Bernays, Pamela Painter
A friend of mine went to college and got a Master's Degree in English. This was one of his textbooks. I can't say I've "read" it, but I've definitely used it. Not even a quarter of it, yet, despite having it for a year or two. But the thing is, when I'm dry-- you know, absolutely exhausted of all ideas for story or character, I can pick up this book and find something to trigger a spark and get something on the page.
Okay, I know what you're thinking. "There are no horror books on this list!" True... because, honestly, I get so wrapped in a good story, that I lose sight of what makes it so good, so readable, so lovable. And while I may get inspired by the magnificent tales of Clive Barker, or Stephen King, I also get that feeling that I could never compete with them. How many times have I read something only to exclaim, "Damn! I wish I'd written that!"
But, I can only write what I write, and they will write what they write, and maybe someday my novels and stories can share some shelf space with them. That is the Dream.