Once when I was traveling and had to be away from my desk for a month, I happened across A Year of Writing Dangerously in Barnes & Noble.
I fell in love with the title IMMEDIATELY. I pulled it off the shelf, thinking that even if the inside of the book is a bust, I want the phrase WRITING DANGEROUSLY tattooed across my arms.
Writing dangerously. I just love that, just completely love it. Yes! Push right to the edge, write from the brink, be brazen, dare.
Be bold in telling the truth, say how things really are, fend off apathy.
Because when we're doing this, when we're really into the game, when we're playing for keeps: writing is a lot like scooping chunks of your heart out with a spoon, smearing it on paper, and hoping people like it, hoping it's useful, hoping it helps, hoping you told the whole truth.
It is dangerous to write. We're brink-dwellers, on the edge of so many things. Giving it all away. Saying every secret. Spending all we have.
So yeah. I fell in love with the title.
And then the inside of the book was exactly what I hoped it would be.
She talks about the writing life: the spectrum we live in, from insecurity to daringness. She describes how famous writers write. (Which I love, b/c I'm so nosy about writing routines!) She shares anecdotes about famous writers, less famous writers, students, herself.
If you're like me, you'll read this and you'll recognize your own funny self: over and over again. And you and I will both be sighing and saying I'M NOT CRAZY, I'M JUST A WRITER, WHEW.
It's good to know.
She has tips on creativity, on how to keep a light hand with your work, or, on the flip side, how to lean in closer and be more serious.
I LOVE that she closes each section with a quote. I love writing quotes, of course, and have collected so very many of them--and yet so so so many of these were new to me.
It's just HELPFUL, guys. There's a whole community of writers represented in these pages. So many fellow scribblers in her text, in her anecdotes, in the quotes, that even if you're working alone, even if you're the only writer you know, you feel surrounded by others.
All of us picking our way forward with ink, with words.
You're swimming in this stream with all these other writers! We're all foraging for ideas, dreaming up stories, creating little worlds that then run away with us.
All of us. Together. All year long.
The reading for each day is small enough that it's the perfect little idea snack before you dive into your writing day. Or it's the perfect closer at the end.
Or you can do what I did when I first discovered it: I picked it up that day, obviously, in the bookstore, and I brought it on my trip with me.
And whenever I could, I'd sneak off and just gulp it down, reading a chunk at a time, soaking it up, immersing in words.
It's wise and bright and funny, clever, insightful, and darned intelligent. It's just right, it's the very thing, it's the perfect fit.
One of the reviews calls this book a writing party, and I love that description, because yes. Yes it is.
Phyllis Theroux says, "When you open [this book], you are in a house full of writers, each of whom wants to march you over to a corner to tell you something important about the writing life....Prepare yourself for a wonderful party!"
If you or someone you know could do with a bit of courage, a bit of brightness in book form (and who doesn't need that?): then get this book.
And if you pop some champagne and toss some confetti as you read, as you celebrate writing dangerously... Well, I'm not going to stop you.