Daily Archives: December 6, 2009

Ten Gifts to Give Beginning Novelists

By popular demand..

1. A small notebook, so your budding novelist can carry it everywhere and jot down notes, and possibly addresses. Moleskine is the classic, but there are many others. Should fit in pocket or bag.

2. A large box. This is for all the drafts. Keep them! You may need them later.

3. Mortification: Writers and Their Public Shame, compiled by Robin Roberston. Everything awful that may happen to you in public has already happened to someone else, almost. Add to the list (I hope not).

4. Roget’s Thesaurus. I know there are some thesauri on line but nothing beats the paper version. It is somehow more troll-able. And when things go bad, you can warm it in the oven (not to much, it’s flammable) & cuddle up to it in bed.

5. The Stretching Handbook. Or something like it. Or Pilates lessons. Anything to straighten out that writer-spine & bad elbow we get after a while…

6. A Novel in a Year. Louise Doughty.  It is what it says, week by week. Not intimidating.

7. How Not to Write a Novel. Mittelmark and Newman. It also is what it says, and funny too. But if you read it you may never write anything. Beware.

8. The Art Instinct. Denis Dutton.  Why do human beings make art, including narrative art? An evolved adaptation, says the author. News just in: Art not a frill! Built in!

9. The Gift. Lewis Hyde.  How is art situated in the world of commerce? Or: why do so few artists make lots of money? How do gifts operate, as opposed to buying & selling?

10. Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on Writing. I wrote this one. It’s not about how to write – more like What is this writing and how does it differ from other art forms, and who are writers, and what do they think they’re doing? The underground journey…


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