“If everything goes according to plan, you have no good stories to tell.”
This is my motto in life and writing. Stories (and life) happen in the detours. Embrace them. Look for opportunities to explore and have an adventure.
As with every shelf in my library, my writing books overflow their designated space. Some of the books packed on the shelves I have read intently and others I have skimmed or use as reference. Others linger should I ever need them for anything.
Over the years, I have found I return to certain writing books more than others. Here is my short stack:
You heard me. I listen to people talking whenever and wherever I can. I tell myself I am just collecting examples of dialogue, but that is not always the case and I am not ashamed to say it. Sometimes I know that what I am hearing will never make it into a story, but it often piques my interest and gets me thinking, which is why I do it.
I think it is fairly common for writers to be afflicted with two simultaneous yet contradictory delusions—the burning certainty that we’re unique geniuses and the constant fear that we’re witless frauds who are speeding toward epic failure. Scott Lynch
Fear: that despicable thing that pervades our writing and creative endeavors. Fear is a pervasive part of writing, of any creative act really. I despise it, but cannot shake it. It is what causes me to bounce between the rush of excitement at a new idea and the despair that I won’t do it justice.
Why do we do this to ourselves?
I dislike tossing books aside even when I don’t like them. Sometimes it is out of loyalty to the author, particularly if it is someone I have loved in the past. Sometimes it is because I need to know how it ends, even though the story or characters are disappointing. Sometimes it is simple stubbornness to finish what I have begun.
These books can be helpful though.
I grew up on a military base, or more accurately many military bases. It was my childhood and life. Even today my idea of home is anyplace filled with military uniforms and flags. Home is not a place, but a community—one I miss a great deal. I did, however, learn a lot growing up in that world. One of them was the value of cadence.