Books -- reading and writing.
Home, cooking, the weather.
And whatever connections I can make between these chapters of my life.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Reading Craft Book(s). Or not.

My friend Joyce Sweeney once said--and I'm sure I'm slightly paraphrasing: "Craft books are for when things aren't going well."

But, Joyce, I have a big shelf of them!
She's right though. That's way too-much-information unless something's going wrong. Start with your story. Begin with your characters. Keep writing till you get bogged down.
That's the time to see what's helped others, to explore lots of What ifs?, to find a trick to get you out of the Muddy Middle.

Before we took off to find a place to escape Florida's summer heat (which is turning out to be very hard this week), I grabbed a book by one of my favorite writers and teachers, ANN HOOD. I brought CREATING CHARACTER EMOTIONS with me. 
It's a perfect book for dipping into.

(And pictured, also, is the very cool notebook our Critique Group leader, Teddie Aggeles, gave us! I'm filling mine up fast.)

One interesting thing about this re-reading is finding little notes scribbled in the margins (Yes, I do dog-ear, scribble, sticky-note books if they're mine- don't you?). 
I've found thoughts about characters from two of my previous books and one WIP that may be "in progress" for a very long time! 

I grappled with emotions, especially for Theo and Azalea, and now smile-out-loud reading my notes.

I bought this book in January of 2008 when I was lucky enough to study under Ann at the fabulous Writers-in-Paradise conference. I love her examples, which have made me want to seek out some of the short stories and novels she references. Her exercises are excellent. She picks emotions like fear or happiness or grief, and shares things that work and things to avoid. This is a good choice to pick up with your writing notebook, to sit under a shade tree without your computer or your story racing through your fingers.

And since it's MONDAY and everybody is sharing what they're reading, I also re-read a picture book tucked away on my shelf. (I love picture books.)

Have you read Brian Lies's BATS AT THE BALLGAME. Hey, it's baseball season, people! Read all the baseball books you love. Right?

Re-reading this book makes me want to stop by the library and check out another favorite from Brian (truthfully, they all are favorites. I'm a big fan): BATS AT THE BEACH. 

This is what I said when I first shared this in a gift-buying blogpost: 
"When the grownup reading it continues the story even after the two-year-old lapchild wandered off, you know the book's a winner."