Prolific western writer Louis L’Amour wrote in his autobiographical Education of a Wandering Man, “A writer’s brain is like a magician’s hat. If you’re going to get anything out of it, you have to put something in first.”
That’s why reading well and widely is crucial to a writer’s development. You don’t have to read everything, of course; just everything I’ve written.
I’m only half joking. But in addition to reading my books, you might consider some of the books I’ve read lately. The following portions I’ve highlighted might motivate you:
“If one does not believe in God, he is forced to believe in miracle, the very thing he condemns in the believer” (E. Stanley Jones, Abundant Living).
“Somewhere out there, there’s another Tolkein. Somewhere out there, men and women with redeemed, integrated imaginations are sitting down to spin a tale that awakens, a tale that leaves the reader with a painful longing that points them home, a tale whose fictional beauty begets beauty in the present world and heralds the world to come. Someone out there is building a bridge so we can slip across to elf-land and smuggle back some of its light into this present darkness” (Andrew Peterson, Adorning the Dark: Thoughts on Community, Calling, and the Mystery of Making).
“It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude” (Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Complete Prose Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson).
“English has a lot of synonyms for ‘fool’ or ‘idiot.’ Perhaps you take this to mean that English speakers are mean-spirited; I simply reply that necessity is the mother of invention” (Kory Stamper, Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries).
“The best way to learn about books . . . is to spend time with them, talk about them, defend them” (Charlie Lovett, The Bookman’s Tale: A Novel of Obsession).
“Don’t go to the grave with your best work still inside of you. Die empty” (Todd Henry, The Accidental Creative: How to Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice).
“O, there is lovely to feel a book, a good book, firm in the hand, for its fatness holds rich promise, and you are hot inside to think of good hours to come” (Richard Llewellyn, How Green Was My Valley).
“Like all of my friends, she’s a lousy judge of character” (David Sedaris, Me Talk Pretty One Day).
“And though she be but little, she is fierce” (William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream).
Those are from only nine of the most recent books I’ve read. So much good stuff. How about you? Care to share some of the highlighted portions of your most recent reads?
“It’s less important to seek after miracles than it is to hunger after the miracle-giver.” – From Mammi, in “The Love Letters” by Beverly Lewis
Thanks Bob. Louis L’Amour is quite believable when tells of his research and his living as his characters lived, it’s evident in his writing.
“Don’t settle when you can scale the heights” (A Whisper in the Woods: Quiet Escapes in a Noisy World by Martin Wiles).
Lee Ann Mancini
“Words only reflect an intellectual dogma, but the expression of our lives shows what we truly believe, regardless of our stated dogma.” “The Forgotten Way” by Ted Dekker.
I daily turn with thanks to John;
what someone else might not’ve kept
is the verse I now depend upon,
the simpe statement, “Jesus wept.”
These days are grinding and severe,
but I must bow, it is God’s plan;
yet I’m allowed to shed a tear,
for sorrow’s what doth make the Man.
The bright-hued comments I receive:
“Rejoice, you will see Heaven soon!”
But I, my friend, am loath to leave
my wife, my dogs, this sitting-room,
Death may be gain and victory,
but I still weep; He comforts me.
Your friends weep with you, Andrew.
That means the world, Shirlee. Truly.
Linda Riggs Mayfield
Oh, Andrew, this is definitely one of your very best! You move hearts as well as minds and draw both together with yours.
“Sometimes joy feels like letting go when we’re overwhelmed. Sometimes it feels more like an underlying confidence or courage. Sometimes joy is what seeps through the cracks when our hearts are breaking.”
From Champagne for the Soul by Mike Mason
Ann L Coker
I love that phrase in Andrew Peterson’s title: “the mystery of making.” As writers that should be our goal. Here’s a quote:
“In order for a book (or any project or enterprise) to hold our attention for the length of time it takes to unfold itself, it has to plug into some internal perplexity or passion that is of paramount importance to us.” (Steven Pressfield, The War of Art)
“Creatives who follow the way of Jesus are called to give away every last trade secret, every lesson learned, every skill set acquired, and lots and lots of art.” (All That Is Made, Alabaster Co.)
I read Andrew Peterson ‘s book and absolutely loved it!
“Writers are the caretakers o’ history, Byrne. We document the livin’ and dyin’ of the human cause. But our pen, however noble, however well-intended, will always bleed the color of our convictions” (Kristy Cambron, Castle on the Rise, p. 181).
One more: “May the Lord help us to leave something behind in the journey of life so that those who come after us will be encouraged and helped!” (Warren Wiersbe, Be Resolute (Daniel): Determining to Go God’s Direction).
Wow! There’s a lot of books to be added to my TBR list!
“You must once and for all give up being worried about successes and failures. Don’t let that concern you. It’s your duty to go on working steadily day by day, quite quietly, to be prepared for mistakes, which are inevitable and for failures” (Madeleine L’Engle, Walking on Water (quoting Chekov).
It is T-o-l-k-i-e-n not T-o-l-k-e-i-n . . .
Amber (Schamel) Lemus
“You are responsible for your success. You need to do marketing however you choose to publish.” How to Market a Book by Joanna Penn
Linda Riggs Mayfield
So relevant during the pandemic when everyone’s emotions are so sensitive and opinions so strongly held, from Philip Yancey’s Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference?:
“Fear, praise, anxiety, anger, love, sorrow, despair, gratitude, grief, doubt, suffering, joy, vengeance, repentance–every human emotion and experience surges to the surface in the prayer-poems of Psalms.”
“Instinctively, we want to clean up our feelings in our prayers, but perhaps we have it all backwards. Perhaps we should strive to take all our worst feelings to God. After all, what would be gossip when addressed to anyone else is petition when addressed to God.”
“Work out animosity toward enemies not by gossip or hostility, but by informing God of their injustice and asking God to set things right.”
What a fun way to share what you’re reading, Bob.
Here’s a quote from a current read of mine:
“If we are rigorous enough, fearless enough, and humble enough to attempt this responsibility, this way of seeing–for creative nonfiction, like fiction, like poetry, is simply and complexly a way of seeing–the rewards we will reap will be great: we will understand. To understand, and nothing more, and that is everything.” (Bret Lott, Before We Get Started: A Practical Memoir of the Writer’s Life)
I read “The Art of Racing in the Rain” by Garth Stein *again* and each time, Enzo saying, “Learn to listen, I beg of you!” grabs me by the heart. Another quote that stays with me even though it’s not a recent read is Blaise Pascal in Pensees: “All that is only for the author is worthless.”
Thanks again for helping us remember the best wisdom we can glean from books.