One of my all time favorite books is “For Writers Only” by Sophy Burnham.
My copy looks like it’s been drug around for years, traveled to many countries, sat by my bedside, had coffee probably spilled on it, marked up with blue, red and black pens at different stages of my life. That’s when you know you have a good book.
I had read “A Book of Angels” and when her writer’s book was published, I casually bought it. Little did I know I would be reading it still years later.
First of all, she writes straight from her heart.
Sophy Burnham is quite honest in the preface. “I didn’t want to write what people would pay me to write, and no one wanted to pay me for what I wanted to write.” (Sound familiar?) She says that she fell prey to fear and to the inner Judge we are all acquainted with. And so she began this book. I highly recommend it. It’s on Amazon and can be download it to a Kindle. But, honestly, it would be worth it to buy a regular book so you too can mark it up and reread it over and over again.
It has brought me comfort for so many years.
Along with her own misgivings,thoughts and suggestions, as well as her own epiphanies, she stashes a smart collection of quotes that are spot on for a wayward writer. And I believe that we are all wayward in a sense, always seeking the next publishing of our work, always wanting to be taken seriously, always listening to inner voices that can drive one quite mad
So I want to give you a few quotes to stir up your day and make it wonderful.
“One of the most difficult things is the first paragraph. I have spent any months on a first paragraph, and once I get it,the rest just comes out very easily.” GABRIEL GARCIA MARQUEZ
“You do not even have to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. Do not even listen, simply wait. Do not even wait, be still and solitary. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.” FRANK KAFKA
“Writers kid themselves –about themselves and other people. Take the talk about writing methods. Writing is just work — there’s no secret. If you dictate, or use a pen or type with your toes — it is just work.” SINCLAIR LEWIS
“Each time I write a book, every time I face that yellow pad, the challenge is so great. I have written eleven books, but each time I think, “Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.” MAYA ANGELOU
“Ever tried? Ever failed? No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” SAMUEL BECKETT
One of my favorite quotes from Sophy Burnham is this one on writer’s block.
“Sometimes it comes from too tight a hold on your imagination. Then you must write something more extravagant. Outlandish. Preposterous. Wild. Break through your own inhibitions and play and dance and sing and shout your verses to the moon. Or else you stop writing what is giving you such trouble and write about the writing that you hate, or the subject that wants to be turned upside down and poured out like stars into the heavens, a Milky Way of nonsense that the creative sense adores. ”
Thanks Sophy for the wonderful work you give to the world.
You can find more about her at http://www.sophyburnham.com