Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Heck of a Deal!

Tori came home from the thrift store this weekend with a prize for me.

No, not another coup like a few months ago when we found a signed, first-edition hardcover of Bruce Campbell's memoir, "If Chins Could Kill." (Still can't believe we got that for a quarter.) But this was pretty good all by itself.

A pristine, mass market paperback edition of Stephen King's "On Writing."

This book is one of my very favorite books about the craft – mostly because he treats it like a craft, not an art. I don't understand the word art, or the concept. It's a slippery devil. I'm not sure how useful a word can be if no one can agree on what it means. I'm also not big on the word talent, as far as it implies some gift that some people have and others don't and there's nothing you can do about it.

I like the idea of craft or skill. Those imply things you can learn, practice, improve. If you keep your humility and accept that you don’t know it all, don't have all the answers and don't have some secret, god-given gift that know one else does, then you can grow in your craft.

The first half of King's book is his memoir. He says right at the front he doesn't know how to make a writer, he just knows what made him a writer, and tells the story. The second half, or really about the final third, is very practical, down to earth advice about how to build your writer’s tool box, what to put in it, how to sharpen your skills. He has a lot of pithy advice on dialogue. It's a good read.

She also brought home a copy of Patrick O'Brian's "H.M.S. Surprise," the third n the Master and Commander series. When I first came across that series I devoured them, all 20 in less than 10 months. Outstanding historical/adventure series, and must reading for anyone who wants to write in the genre, just to see how it's done by a master. Since I got all 20 from the library, I don’t actually own them and haven't been able to reread them.

Well, know I own two. I got the first one, "Master and Commander," about a year ago, also at a thrift shop, and now a second. On top of the King, that was gravy.

And the amazing thing is, the thrift shop has stopped charging for books. They were charging a quarter a piece, but now apparently so many have been donated that they have to clear them out to start over. So every week or so we go down, fill up a shopping bag, buy a few shirts or coffee mugs and take the books for free.

There are worse deals on the island, let me tell you.

And an update – Wrote 1,200 + words yesterday on a project Tori and I are doing together. Won't have as much luck today because I've got a story for work in the afternoon and I'm editing tonight. But I'm going to try to get at least a few hundred in as soon as I finish this.

1 comment:

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