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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Kendra Leigh Castle: Words of Wisdom



I’m probably exposing myself as a lousy student of the craft for this, but in all my time as an aspiring and then published author I have read exactly one book about writing.  Not because I feel like such books aren’t worthwhile, but because with the number of kids and deadlines in my life, I prefer to spend my limited reading time engrossed in fiction.  Becoming an author has messed me up as a reader anyway—I now spend too much time noticing how the pieces and parts of a work are put together and functioning than just enjoying the ride.  That’s educational, right?  And annoying.  But I digress…

The singular craft book I have on my shelf, while a lonely representative of its genre, also happens to be one of the most inspirational books I’ve ever read.  Maybe that’s part of the reason I don’t have any others…I can’t imagine needing much that isn’t in my well-loved copy.  What is it?  On Writing by Stephen King.

King has been a favorite author of mine since the sixth grade.  I can’t really remember which of his books I started with.  I think it may have been The Stand, which I definitely read that year, and which remains among my very favorite books.  Regardless, I am very sure I tore through everything from Carrie to It that year, utterly engrossed by the vivid (and often terrifying) pictures King painted.  Weirdly, I am a huge chicken who refuses to watch horror movies, and horror novels aren’t really my thing either…except for his.  It’s his style, which is incredibly intimate, and his characters, which seem to live and breathe, that hook me every time.  So I guess it stands to reason that any book he’d write about the craft would interest me.  Still, On Writing turned out to be my go-to read for the times when my artistic battery is running low, when I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing, when I am completely certain that I’m a fraud who will soon be found out, at which point several publishers will start hounding me for their money back.  Stephen King may specialize in the weird, but reading his words about becoming a writer, about the business and the craft and his own journey, are comforting.  The business itself is pretty weird, honestly.  It’s why writers enjoy connecting with one another.  Shared weirdness tends to be reassuring.

So is there some secret, groundbreaking advice in On Writing that rocked my world and made me love this book, forsaking all others of its ilk?  Well…no, not really.  That’s a thing you find out as a professional writer, you know.  There are no secrets.  It’s talent, and a lot of luck, and sheer stubbornness.  Everybody has a different formula.  Sometimes the stars align, and a lot of times they don’t.  We’re all just plugging away because we can’t quite help ourselves.  And what’s lovely is that in his book, King acknowledges just that.  There are some interesting exercises, if you choose to do them, but in the main, the book is a conversation—a conversation about writing with one of my favorite authors, in his famously intimate style.  Even he says, near the beginning, “We’re not even in the same year together, let alone the same room…except we are together.  We’re close.”  And you feel it.  He talks about how he came to writing, how he got where he is, the difficulties (some self-inflicted) along the way.  It’s all fascinating, often funny.  And then, of course, he talks about writing itself.  How the road to hell is paved with adverbs.  How “books are a uniquely portable magic.”  One of my favorite sections deals with the necessity of getting your butt in the chair on a regular basis…and how often you’re doing good work even when you feel like you’re only shoveling crap from a sitting position.  That’s reassurance I need on a regular basis.

Like I said, none of it is earth-shaking literary advice.  I doubt such a thing exists.  But King says the kind of things I need to hear when I’m struggling to put words on the page.  That’s the trick, I guess, with utilizing books about the craft for those of us who practice it.  It’s finding someone whose message resonates in just the right way so that in this lonely business we no longer feel quite so alone.  For me, it’s Stephen King, who seems to be a pretty normal guy despite all his fame, and who, in the book, is a little unnerved by the fact that speaking to a group about his work means that he has to pretend that he doesn’t put his pants on one leg at a time like everybody else.  I like normal.  I like dealing in the reality that is the desk, the keyboard, the sweatpants I may or may not have been wearing for a week straight.  And most of all, I like words like the ones I’ll leave you with from On Writing:  “Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends.  In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well.  It’s about getting up, getting well, and getting over.  Getting happy, okay?  Getting happy.”

Who inspires you?  Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Immortal Craving!

Kendra Leigh Castle is the author of numerous paranormal romances including the Dark Dynasties series, the RITA finalist Renegade Angel, the MacInnes Werewolves trilogy, and the upcoming Hearts of the Fallen series.  She lives in Maryland with her husband, kids, and menagerie of pets, and can be found at her website (www.kendraleighcastle.com), facebook (www.facebook.com/authorkendraleighcastle) and Twitter (@KendraLCastle).

***Kendra's winner is Nicole Laverdure.  Please email totebag@authorsoundrelations.com with your mailing information.***

16 comments:

Lory Lee said...

Those people who talks negative about me, they are the one's who inspires me not to change but to improve myself on how to be a better person.

GladysMP said...

I am inspired by my husband's attitude toward other people. He doesn't look for faults, he just accepts folks the way they are. He loves people and they love him in return.

Ana Lucía said...

My family and my friends. Each one of them in different ways but there is always inspiration in any of them.

luarroyave(at)hotmail(dot)com

Tanya Contois said...

My mom inspires me. She is the most caring person I know and such a strong woman for raising three kids after becoming a widow at 30 years old.

Cris Brown said...

my family inspire me.New to Network Marketing

Stefanie said...

When my patients tell me what they´ve been through, what difficulties they had to conquer, that inspires me to be a better person.

Kendra Leigh Castle said...

These are all great! Thanks for coming by and sharing. :)

Kimberli Crook said...

I am inspired by my three wonderful kids who allow me to see the world through a fresh set of eyes. The way that they can look at things and see all of the good before the bad.

Pat Cochran said...

Family and friends are my inspiration!
Especially my grandchildren, who range
from age 22 to age 4. They speak such
truths!

Pat C.

Nicole Laverdure said...

I would say that my husband is my inspiration, because he can cope with me every day! with my ups and downs!

erin said...

Thanks for the great post and congrats on the new release! I'd have to say the kids that I work w/ inspire me :) (I work at a Children's hospital)

Shannon Bereza said...

My husband and my children. My husband is a professional firefighter and my very own hero so of course his selflessness is what inspires me so much. And my five children inspire me everyday. They inspire me to seen joy life and not take things too seriously. Ranging in ages from 17 all the way to twin 3 year olds means they each inspire me in different ways because they are at such different points in life. Thanks for the amazing post and thanks for the chance to win.

Jo's Daughter said...

My mom, she is really strong and never gives up. Her life is not that easy. Illness and loss, rejection... Yet she stays positive and encouraging. She inspires me to be the same & keep believing.

Mary Preston said...

Has To be my Mother. Forever & always an inspiration.

Eli Yanti said...

my mom always inspire me to be a better and strong woman

Heather said...

My friends inspire me to do more and to do better.