Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Writing and Publishing (copy)

I read a book this week that I could not put down. Bet you are thinking suspense or romance novel. Ha! I hate to shock you, but it is a young adult, nonfiction book in the It Happened to Me series. I kid you not. The writing is engaging and the topic is of great interest to me.

Writing and Publishing by Tina P. Schwartz promises teens a bright future if they like to write. Her first chapter, “Reading,” sent tingles through my spine. If you want to write you need to read. Read various things in various formats and read often. If you have trouble writing in a certain genre style read all you can in that genre. If you like a movie read the book. It is always better with the characters’ thoughts and motivations. Find an author you like and read everything they have written. Read poetry. Read short stories. Read. Read. Read.

Careers are a major discussion in chapter two. It is understandable with a preteen or teenage audience. Schwartz focuses on more than writing books, too. She includes writing poetry, greeting cards, song lyrics, scripts, and grants. I like that she points out jobs for which a high school diploma is all one needs.

Now, I realize this book might not appeal to the ordinary non-writing fellow. But, like any book worth its weight in gold, this one suggests more book titles; specifically, Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft is mentioned numerous times. The funny thing, last nonfiction book I read also suggested this same book.

Stephen King, the author of over 60 novels, began writing as a preteen, too. In On Writing, he explains how his first short story took shape. It was based on his mother’s desire to exchange her green stamps for a lamp she would later give to her sister for Christmas. Her tongue was green from all the licking and pasting in just a few short minutes of filling in the reward booklets. King thought that would make a great story by adding an impossible reward like a house that took, “eleven million, six hundred thousand books of Happy Stamps.”

He titled his short story “Happy Stamps” and sent it off to Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. Three weeks later and King was looking at his first rejection letter. With Fats Domino playing in the background, he placed a nail on the wall and punched the letter through it. At age 14 the nail was full of rejection letters and he installed a spike where as he satisfyingly impaled future letters.

This week readers have two choices: an engaging book on the “how-to” or a funny book on the “why” write.