In the last couple of months, I have been working extremely hard to polish off a new book.
I have written non-stop during the lockdown and then exhaled straight after and returned to it again once the lockdown began to ease. I pretty much have finished writing it, saved for final edits and fresh eyes to look at the final draft. I am almost done and feel accomplished. At this difficult time, something has come through for me and I am truly glad. Writing a book can be daunting and all the little details can keep you in one chapter for several months. But it’s a labour of love and one never really knows which book is going to speak to one. I had started 2020 with a definite idea of which of my three book ideas will come first. In fact, the book of choice was one that required about three-six months to deliver. I had finished it last year but it was waiting for all the protocols for producing a good book; edits, reviews, covers, etc. However, the book that finally called my name was not the book I thought I had finished but one I had not even written at the top of the year. So a book that required my writing from the scratch was the one that wanted to be written. And the one that was already done took a back seat. So the journey began. The research, the early mornings, the late nights and just living my day to day life in between. For first-time writers, the effort may be overwhelming but after writing two books as I have done, it becomes truly an exciting adventure. Hard work but enjoyable. This week I have chosen to encourage would-be writers with tips from books that I took to and still dip in and out of when I am writing. Be mindful that these books are better read and enjoyed for inspiration. I often find that midway through a book project, I need to get out of my head and get some air. This is when I read some of these books to refresh me and inspire me. Other times I read a book ahead of the start of my writing. I pick a book similar to the genre I am planning to write. Here are some of the books I recommend.
1. If I am writing a non-fiction book, I often go to a non-fiction collection and immerse myself in playful reading, which means I can read it continuously for two days, pause and return to it after a week. One of such books which is a re-read for me is David and Goliath by critical thinker Malcolm Gladwell. His books lead me towards paths I did not consider in my own body of work and opens my mind. I may have concluded ten chapters then I take a break and return to the pages. A truly refreshing book as you prepare to write your own non-fiction piece.
2. Poetry, on the other hand, requires a more determined solitude. Once awake at 5 am, I find that the chirping of the birds gives me the most inspiration. If not that, then perhaps a sit out by the oceanfront, alone. As the early morning dew settles on your face, the inspiration gathers and your brain is alert to the words that drop in your head. I find contemporary poet, Lang Leave a truly amazing poet to read at this time. Author of “Love and Misadventure” I find that she can go from whimsical to woeful and those mood swings set you up for your own writing. Read her collections by the waterfront for at least two weeks in a quiet place, then dig in or in the alternative read South African poet, Dennis Brutus’s Letters to Martha.
3. Read like a writer by Francine Prose remains one of the finest books in contemporary literature for an aspiring writer to cling onto. I read it when I had already written two books and I wished I had read it earlier. But it’s that book I return to again and again. It’s a great book to own. It’s a book for all writers, not just aspiring ones.
4. When I am writing short stories and they have their seasons, believe me, I often read any collection of short stories that are handy but I will much prefer to be reading the classics and some contemporary ones. Short stories like the ones by Anton Chekhov or The thing around your neck by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
5. For my yet unfinished novel, I usually will take a book that has literally swept the literary community off its feet in its sheer courage and ambition. One of the books that serve that purpose for me is Zadie Smith’s White teeth. I have read it several times and each time I never cease to marvel at Zadie’s sheer prowess both in characterization, setting and incredible dialogue.
I love writing, but I never stop reading because reading energizes the mind. But you must be highly disciplined to get it done. A timetable that you adhere to will help, so you actually write and not spend the time daydreaming and getting carried away by the book you are reading. You also have to pace yourself so you do not get too tired before the writing journey is ended. Take short naps in between your writing day and look after yourself. Good luck.
Soppy by Philippa Rice. This book started on the internet as the author who is also an illustrator documents her relationship with her boyfriend in such a heart-warming book.
Any Book by Myles Munroe.
The classic book on relationships, Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus by John Gray. The author reminds everyone in a relationship to accept their differences as positives.
He might just not be that into you by Greg Behrendt and Liz Fucillo is a book that lets you know you might be in love with the wrong person. So if you have a single friend who is fretting about why a relationship went south, it’s time to let them know they might just be over analysing a relationship that’s going nowhere and the book helps you to break down why you should not be wasting your time on those duds. It also gives men a peek into women’s dating anxieties and what they really want.