by Dawn Marie Carlson
While on a recent bookstore expedition at Copperfield’s in Novato, I uncovered this gem, Good Prose – The Art of Nonfiction – Stories and advice from a lifetime of writing and editing.
The authors bring their rich experience along this journey with us. Tracy Kidder is a Harvard graduate, and the author of nine books, the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for The Soul of a New Machine, the American Book Award, the National Book Award, the Robert F. Kennedy Award, and many other literary prizes. Richard Todd is a writer and editor, and the author of The Thing Itself, the former executive editor The Atlantic Monthly, a professor at Amherst and Smith colleges and the University of Massachusetts, and on the faculty at Goucher College MFA program. Kidder and Todd worked on their first assignment together, which won the Pulitzer Prize.
I planned to mention these inspirational excerpts (pp. 67, 68, 79) from “Chapter 4 Essays,” at our meeting, though our time was at a premium.
“There is something you want to say, and yet you are dogged by the perennial questions—sometimes useful, but sometimes fatal—that can visit any writer. Who am I to be writing this? Who asked me? And cruelest of all, who cares? The chances are that nobody asked for your opinion. But if your idea is fresh, it will surprise even someone, perhaps an assigning editor, who did ask. No one gives you permission to write this way. It is like taking a bite of the apple that is the world. You do it. You get away with it. Soon experience entitles you to do it again.”
As a writer, you are the intrepid guide leading your readers who are impatiently awaiting their next expedition, they are searching for your scrolls worldwide, it is vital and necessary to compose and ultimately—publish your gems for your readers.
Here are some additional acquisitions I uncovered in previous book-browsing adventures you might appreciate:
- Better Than Before – What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits—to Sleep More, Quit Sugar, Procrastinate Less, and Generally Build a Happier Life by Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project. Excerpt from the chapter, “It’s Enough to Begin – First Steps.”
“The most important step is the first step. All those old sayings are really true. Well begun is half done. Don’t get it perfect, get it going. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Nothing is more exhausting than the task that’s never started, and strangely, starting is far harder than continuing. That first step is tough. Every action has an ignition cost: getting myself to the gym and changed into my gym clothes can be more challenging than actually working out. That’s why good habits are a tremendous help: they make the starting process automatic.”
- The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo, author of Spark Joy – an Illustrated Master Class on The Art of Organizing and Tidying Up.
- And I Shall Have Some Peace There—Trading in The Fast Lane for My Own Dirt Road by Margaret Roach, author of The Backyard Parables—Lessons on Gardening and Life.
- An Author’s Perspective on Independent Publishing: Why Self-Publishing May Be Your Best Option by BAIPA board member, Lee Foster, author of The Photographer’s Guide to San Francisco: Where to Find the Perfect Shots and How to Take Them.
- From Entrepreneur to Infopreneur—Make Money with Books, eBooks, and Information Products by BAIPA speaker, Stephanie Chandler, author of The Nonfiction Book Marketing Plan: Online and Offline Promotion Strategies to Build Your Audience and Sell More Books.