Take Joy: a book for writers

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Friday, May 13, 2005
by Jane Yolen (#13)

Hey! Lucky 13 on Friday the 13th! I really enjoyed this book. This is one of the few writing books (along with say, Bird by Bird and maybe the NaNoWriMo book) that I would actually like to have in my personal collection. Yolen's take on writing can pretty much be summed up by the quotation she has at the very beginning by Fra Giovanni: The gloom of the world is but a shadow, and yet within our reach is joy. Take joy! As I get to know myself better (aka get older), I have come to realize that I am essentially an optimist. It's not better or worse than being any other way, it just makes me happiest (and as an optimist, I like to be happy). So, this 'take joy' approach works for me.

Certainly she acknowledges the frustrations and difficulties of writing, but more often her focus is on how to enjoy, how to get the most out of what your brain and experience have to offer, how to take a fresh look at what you already have. But it's not all happy-feel-good stuff. She also includes the secret of writing: (BIC - for Butt In Chair), and that sometimes you have to quit fussing and just sit down and write the damn story. I would recommend this book for anyone looking for a book on writing that is not concentrating on "12 easy steps to publication" or "how to have a punctuation aneurysm." It's more about telling a story, and less about the technical aspect. Lord knows there are plenty of books out there already focusing on the latter.

You can get a taste of her style if you go to her website here, and go to the For Writers section linked to from the bottom of the page.
2 comments on "Take Joy: a book for writers"
  1. This sounds interesting. I still need to read that book that you gave me for my birthday. I'm trying to force myself to slog through the writing/exercise book I started 3 years ago first, though. Reading that one will be my reward. I also have one from the library whose name I should give you. It's not so much on the motivational side, but it has some good technical advice concerning structure.

  2. Dude! the words 'force' and 'slog' tell me that maybe you should take a break from that book! Bird By Bird (the one I gave you) and this one are both very readable whether or not you are currently working on a project. Of the two of them, Bird by Bird was more of an "OMG!" book for me - as far as identifying a lot of the things I was doing that were self-defeating - but I know it (writing, creativity, whatever) works differently for everyone. In other words, you've got to do what works for you, baybee!
    What is the name of the one you have from the library?
    OOoh - another good one (not that I am constantly reading writing books - I've just tried to read ones that seem like they would either be REALLY good, or fit with the kind of thing I need to hear to get my ass in gear) is STORY by Robert McKee. It's about screenwriting, but he's got some fantastic stuff about story arc and whatnot. I should probably check it out again.


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