Over the past year, I’ve been learning how to love writing for writing again.
My story echos that of every artist. Sometimes we get burned out. In my case, it had much to do with losing myself in the business side of things. It’s never fun when you lose the joy you once held for your craft.
Part of my quest to recover that joy has been to push back those deadlines and just write. What better way to be inspired than immerse yourself in the reason we tell stories in the first place: books.
Once upon a time…
there was a little girl whose favorite possessions were her books. She would read anything she could get her hands on, from Boxcar Children serials to James Fennimore Cooper’s Last of the Mohiccans. Whether she had read it for the first or tenth time, she still adored her worn picture books. And she struggled with classic novels that were almost too difficult to decipher.
I haven’t changed much since then. I still treasure books and knowledge and as an adult, often crave the escape they provide. Here are a few of my favorites from this past decade:
“Some Quiet Place,” by Kelsey Sutton is about a girl, Elizabeth Caldwell who cannot feel emotions. Instead she “sees” them. I can’t begin to express how much I have continued to love this book and its sequel. Sutton manages to make you feel when the title character longs to. The language and symbolism is beautiful and the story left me wanting more. And it inspired me to write during a time when I felt particularly empty.
“An Enchantment of Ravens,” by Margaret Rogerson is both a fairy tale retelling and original stroke of brilliance. Rogerson writes like an artist, in bold impressionist strokes. It’s wonderful to discover authors who are willing to write with the same vivid energy as my childhood favorites like L.M. Montgomery.
“Bright Star: Love Letters & Poems from John Keats to Fanny Brawn,” came out about the same time as the movie adaptation. While I’m not an avid reader of classic poetry, I was struck by Keats’s raw honesty, a yearning that transcends the centuries. I read this when I had lost faith or hope in real-life romance. And rarely have I read something that stirred my soul as much as these hundred and forty-four pages.
“American Gods” by Neil Gaiman reeled me in with a complex weaving of different mythologies and how they face the challenge of surviving a modern world. It’s impossible to not be dazzled a bit by Gaiman’s writing. His work is always rich and funny, slightly macabre, but always pushing the edge of comfort. American Gods wasn’t always easy to read. It could be violent at times, but it was also so raw, the gods felt real.
“Sunshine,” by Robin McKinley hits another one out of the ballpark with the novelty of an original vampire novel and a stroke of brilliance. McKinley takes her knack for witty heroines and natural storytelling and applies it to the supernatural realm. Dialogue, character and world building is at its best and the result is pure magic.
Finally, last and certainly not the least of these, I offer tribute to Micalea Smeltzer’s gift for portraying grief and hope through Bring Me Back. There’s not enough and so much more I could say about how much this story moved me. It’s not an easy read. Within a few words, this author dives right into a heart wrenching story that poses several heavy questions. But this is as much a tragic story as it is about redemption and second chances.
And they lived happily…
The funny thing about books is the fact that despite all the new wonderful stories I’ve discovered, none hold a candle to old favorites. Perhaps the stories we read in our formative years remain so because they were so pivotal in shaping our world views. Maybe they helped us discover a whole new world of adventures. Or, if you’re like me, perhaps they even sparked our longing to write in turn.
I hope you found a few new books to discover today. If you’re a writer, I encourage you to read beyond your genre. Don’t just pick up the easy reads. Take a chance on something that will challenge your perspective. You never know when you’ll uncover a story that touches you the same way it did when you were young.
Goals for this week
Finish Part 1 of Blackbriar Cove
Finish a book review for my critique partner 😉
Finish something maybe?
BookRags – great resource for breakdowns of your favorite lit.