Writer Mama, Writing Life (WIB ’10 #17)

Writer Mama is a practical guide to leveraging different types of writing into a profitable career if you are weaving writing in with raising your kids.  The book is full of tips and helpful information, some of which is applicable to any type of writing.

Readers who will most benefit from this book are those who are interested in writing articles or non-fiction. Writer Mama will help you to determine the types of writing you feel best suited for or inclined to pursue, and help you get there.  In her discussions of different types of articles and publication, author Christina Katz shows how you can build your portfolio with one type of writing to get to another level, and how not to get bogged down short of your goal.  For example, if your dream is to have a column in your local newspaper, you might write short clips and build a portfolio before pitching a regular column.  But if your goal is to write feature articles in national magazines, you might start at the same place and even try a local column, but you wouldn’t stop there.  I think bloggers would also benefit from Katz’s ideas for article topics and different types of articles, as many of them would translate well to blog posts.

If you’re interested in publishing a non-fiction book, Writer Mama would be immensely helpful to you in building your platform and then understanding how best to pitch your idea.  Best of all, the book is 60% off at Amazon right now, so you can get it for only $6.  If you’re interested in non-fiction writing, that might be a good investment.

Although I enjoyed Writer Mama, I have to admit that The Writing Life is much more my speed.  Annie Dillard is such a vivid writer and crafts such amazing imagery that I think you would enjoy this book even if you don’t write.  The book is not a how to for writing, but rather Dillard’s own reflections and experiences of writing and how she sees life.

I am always interested in how different writers feel about writing, and Dillard falls into the “writing is deeply painful and terrible but also profoundly beautiful” camp.  That said, I didn’t get the feeling that she was trying to dissuade people from writing, or trying to put herself on a pedestal, rather that she was just calling it as she sees it.

My favorite quote from the book is quite encouraging to me as I attempt to eke out a novel in snippets between everything else I have going on:

Out of a human population on earth of four and a half billion, perhaps twenty people can write a book in a year.  Some people lift cars, too.  Some people enter week-long sled-dog races, go over Niagra Falls in barrels, fly planes through the Arc de Triomphe.  Some people feel no pain in childbirth…There is no call to take human extremes as norms.

I also particularly enjoyed the section on setting a schedule.  Dillard writes:

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.  What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing.  A schedule defends from chaos and whim.  It is a net for catching days…There is no shortage of good days.  It is good lives that are hard to come by.

How about you?  Did you read anything good this week?

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5 thoughts on “Writer Mama, Writing Life (WIB ’10 #17)

  1. Among the dozen or so books I’m in the middle of (I know, bad habit) are The Reason for God, by Timothy Keller, and All New Square-Foot Gardening, by Mel Bartholomew. I also just got back from the library and picked up Her Mother’s Hope, by Francine Rivers, and some books on homeschooling, so I’m looking forward to getting into those.

      1. From what I understand, the new version is quite different from the old one. Here’s the Amazon product description:

        Do you know what the best feature is in All New Square Foot Gardening?

        Sure, there are ten new features in this all-new, updated book. Sure, it’s even simpler than it was before. Of course, you don’t have to worry about fertilizer or poor soil ever again because you’ll be growing above the ground.

        But, the best feature is that “anyone,” “anywhere” can enjoy a Square Foot garden. Children, adults with limited mobility, even complete novices can achieve spectacular results.

        But, let’s get back to the ten improvements. You’re going to love them.

        1) New Location – Move your garden closer to your house by eliminating single-row gardening. Square Foot Garden needs just “twenty percent” of the space of a traditional garden.

        2) New Direction – Locate your garden “on top” of existing soil. Forget about pH soil tests, double-digging (who enjoys that?), or the never-ending soil improvements.

        3) New Soil – The new “Mel’s Mix” is the perfect growing mix. Why, we even give you the recipe. Best of all, you can even “buy” the different types of compost needed.

        4) New Depth – You only need to prepare a SFG box to a depth of 6 inches! It’s true–the majority of plants develop just fine when grown at this depth.

        5) No Fertilizer – The all new SFG does not need any fertilizer-ever! If you start with the perfect soil mix, then you don’t need to add fertilizer.

        6) New Boxes – The new method uses bottomless boxes placed aboveground. We show you how to build your own (with step-by-step photos).

        7) New Aisles – The ideal gardening aisle width is about three to four feet. That makes it even easier to kneel, work, and harvest.

        8)New Grids – Prominent and permanent grids added to your SFG box help you visualize the planting squares and know how to space for maximum harvest.

        9)New Seed Saving Idea – The old-fashioned way advocates planting many seeds and then thinning the extras (that means pulling them up). The new method means planting a pinch- literally two or three seeds–per planting hole.

        10) Tabletop Gardens – The new boxes are so much smaller and lighter (only 6 inches of soil, remember?), you can add a plywood bottom to make them portable.

        Of course, that’s not all. We’ve also included simple, easy-to-follow instructions using lots of photos and illustrations. You’re going to love it!

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