January 28, 2015

Writing Club Wednesday: Books That Inspire

It took me three years to stockpile enough books to seriously damage my Walmart bookshelves. That cheap-o particle board was no match for the collection of awesomeness I had crammed on there. And about a month later I had a brand new, significantly sturdier set. Built by my super crafty husband. 

Finally, my books had room to breathe!

Then about halfway through the process of reorganizing everything, I realized some of them weren’t making it up there. I had plucked certain ones out of boxes and put them in a separate stack on the carpet.

By the time I was done, the pile had grown to about nine or ten books and I just couldn’t find the right place for them. These were… special. I needed a better place for them. So I lugged the stack back upstairs and made a mini collection on the shelf by my computer, and that’s where they’ve lived for the last year.

They're the ones I read when I’m neck deep in revisions and convinced everything in the world is terrible. Or when I open a new word document and worry that I’m wasting my time. The ones that remind me why I love to write and inspire me to get off my butt and dive back in.

They’re a kick in the pants, that I need on a semi-regular basis.

Every time I read THE SCORPIO RACES I’m reminded how powerful a truly awesome setting mashed up with stunning writing can be. I’ll be singing the praises of Maggie Stiefvater for the rest of my life, but this book has a special top shelf spot. It doesn't matter how hopeless I feel, a few chapters of water horses and November cakes is all it takes to bring back my inspiration, no matter where it ran off to.

I can’t even count the number of times I’ve retreated to PRIDE AND PREJUDICE when things in my life just go crazy. I’ve read it so many times I can flip it open to a random page and immediately know what’s going on. It’s the macaroni and cheese of books, my friends. It never gets old. 

Need a reason to pick it up? I'll give you three. Mr. Freaking. Darcy.

Need I say more? 

For those days when I’ve stubbed my toe on the same damn chair eight times, spilled tea on three different shirts, and listened to countless screaming fits from my toddler, it’s IF I STAY that brings be back to reality. Following Mia through her tragedy again and again, as she tries to accept what's happened to her, is a surefire way to reset my day.

When I’m writing really heartbreaking scenes, I second guess myself like nobody’s business. Re-reading NOT A DROP TO DRINK reminds me that not everything has to end with rainbows and teddy bears, and sometimes the tragic parts can mean the most later on. Mindy McGinnis has a knack for tackling the tough stuff. She doesn’t shy away from difficult deaths or endings that aren’t so much happy as they are resolved, and I really admire that. 

There are countless books I LOVED TO DEATH that still find themselves in the “favorites” section of my fancy new shelves, a whole floor away from my office. The inspiration shelf is for the books that haunt me. Make me stop in the middle of a scene and say “Holy crap, that’s good.” Fantastic to the core writing that can never be read enough times.

Those books don't just impress me, they teach me something. They make me question my own storytelling abilities and INSPIRE me to get better. 

Plus, getting lost in Mr. Darcy daydreams feels a lot more productive than falling down the rabbit hole of Youtube singing audition videos.

Just saying.


Do you have any books you always keep close by? What ones inspire you, and when do you need them the most?

Happy Wednesday!


Leandra Wallace said...

I am still attempting to work my way through Pride & Prejudice, but whoa-- this movie version of Mr. Darcy really buttons my boots! =D So dreamy... I can't bring myself to watch the other P&P w/Colin Firth (I do believe?) b/c the Kiera Knightley P&P is so perfect. Also, yes, The Scorpio Races for the win. I am DYING to see that as a movie. Unless they go way off track w/it. =/

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