One wonderful person gave me a $10.00 gift certificate to a local bookstore. I love this store: it still has that dusty, musty, old bookstore smell, and the wooden floors creak as you wander through the narrow aisles. It has nooks and crannies. Books are stuffed everywhere, just chaotic enough to make it feel charmed, like somewhere in the stacks could be found a hidden, magical book.
Anyway, as I was wandering through the store today, I got depressed. Depressed! Even bummed and sad. There are more books that I'm dying to read than I could read in a lifetime.
But this is my organizing time of the year, and I've compiled a partial list of all the books I want to read in 2007. I still need a few more. I'm hoping to read two books a week, but it might be one book a week. We'll have to see.
So I'm curious. What novel has taught you the most about the craft? Please leave a comment, so I can add it to my list. I'm looking for novels that I can learn from and dissect and study.
I've read practically every writing book in the writing section of Borders and Barnes and Nobles, so that leaves learning from novels themselves. I'm starting to think that's a better way to learn. Did I mention enough times how much I love Francine Prose's Reading Like A Writer? By far, one of the best writing books I've ever picked up. It's not in the writing section; it's in the literary criticism section, usually squirrelled away in some corner.
The second thing that depressed me, is besides there being more books I want to read than I can read in a lifetime, is that there are more authors than I can read in a lifetime that are probably better writers than me. Maybe Bernita's post The Great American Novel or JA Konrath's post How Good Am I? brought it out in me, or maybe it's the fact that I'm living the day slow because I'm on vacation and down time isn't good for me, or maybe it's just the truth.
The only thing left, I suppose, is to write something no one has written yet. Somedays, that feels hard. I'm preparing to write my novel; I have two projects to finish first. I'm not sure whether I should write #1 or #2. Number one is one I'm having to work hard to make original. I think it's semi-original, because I haven't read one like it and want to, but ... I'm not convinced it's not already out there, undiscovered by me. Number two is--what's that called?--high concept. Or, rather, medium concept. It's all idea and not much plot, yet.
Writing without the pressure for money and without a deadline is hard for me. I gotta admit, I'm scared. Affirmations, affirmations, affirmations ...