debauches of book-buying

Here’s how it started: I was having coffee with friends, chatting about the mixed blessings of writing. I mentioned I was on the look-out for a book by Anne Lamott called, Bird by Bird.

“You are going to love that book; and get Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg, too.” my friends said.

At home I recounted the conversation to my husband and he added, “Well, I have Pierre Berton’s, The Joy of Writing; you could give that a read.” And so the snow-ball of book gathering started. I stumbled upon a resource of not just books about books, but books from authors who write about writing.

This genre of books is full of delicious surprises. For example, author Stephen King INSISTS we read voraciously (he also abhors the use of adverbs like, voraciously, but I will get to that in another blog entry). His advice is music to my read-a-holic ears. And Dorothea Brande (popular in the 1930’s for her work teaching writers) coaches us to “have periodical debauches of book-buying and magazine-buying.” Debauches of book-buying. Sounds like Heaven!

Following recommendations from friends, I have bought, borrowed, and begged to assemble my first reading stack of books that deal with many aspects writing and publishing. As I finish each book, I will give you, not a traditional book review — there are many reviews out there already, but rather, a brief consideration of how the book helped me as a writer. I will ask myself, “So what? Will this book change my writing practice? And if so, how?”

I, also, invite YOU take each author’s advice and put it through a vigourous “test drive:” check your traction on gravel roads; race up steep mountains; pop wheelies; slam on the brakes; put it in cruise control, kick back and take in the view; and come back here to word whacking and report on your writing performance as you employ each technique. Let’s discuss what works — and doesn’t — to facilitate our writing.

As I explore each book, I invite you to add YOUR experience as you read that book or give your views on the topic at hand. Would YOU change your writing practice based on the advice given? Or does the discussion here validate what you are already doing?

Now, its time to grab a book off the stack and start a test drive. “Ladies and Gentlemen, start your engines…”

*******              word whacking                       credits and links             *******

Photo credit: Photos by jamm at

Books mentionedBird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, by Anne Lamott. Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within, by Natalie Goldberg. The Joy of Writing: A Guide for Writers, Disguised as a Literary Memoir by Pierre Berton. On Writing, by Stephen King. Becoming a writer, by Dorothea Brande.

Library thing collection: See all the books mentioned, recommended, or being read at word whacking here:

word whacking, copyright 2010 – Jessica Motherwell McFarlane, Ph.D.. Creative commons attribution, non-commercial sharing only (translation: feel free to quote me in context or use this entry but please always credit me for my work, thanks.)


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