A review by Shu-Ling Chua
Image by Tess Follett Photography
Encouragement, at its heart, represents an attempt to make others feel that they have the strength, wisdom, courage, and ability to solve their problems themselves: it aims not to provide specific solutions but to make others believe that they can find those solutions on their own.
Alex Lickerman, The Undefeated Mind: On the Science of Constructing an Indestructible Self
Use Your Words is all about encouraging others to see themselves as writers and more importantly, to actually write. It doesn’t matter whether you show your writing to anyone; you just need to write. Those who already write may itch to skip ‘Part one: The truth about writing’ but it’s worth being reminded that even writers as prolific as Catherine Deveny – eight books, over 1000 newspaper columns, hundreds of stand-up comedy gigs and counting – share our struggles.
The actual writing is easier than you think. It’s dealing with the emotional stuff around the writing that’s tough. But I’ll give you some reality pills to help you handle it. I’ll bust the myths.
And bust the myths she does, with panache. Deveny knows her stuff and having taught Gunnas Writing Masterclasses for over two years, she addresses the obstacles you’re mostly likely to face.
A guest post by Andy Jackson
Being a writer involves intense and maddening dichotomies. The work of writing requires isolation and withdrawal from the world, a retreat into obsession, both in the act of writing and in the months and years of deep imaginative work while the book takes mental shape. It is a job for an introvert. The process of publishing requires a schizoid opposite, as the work that has been nurtured in the safe, protected space of the computer (or the notebook or the typewritten page) is turned into a commodity… The sensation of handling stacks of printed galleys of my book was at once deeply satisfying and strangely terrifying. To see the book become more than one – to see it become multiple, reproduced – that was very weird… And then, with the reviews, comes a different experience: what was produced in seclusion had become subject to public scrutiny… What surprised me most was how excruciating it was to be reviewed at all. It was an extension of the weirdness and ambivalence that came with seeing my book in print, for sale….
– Kirsten Tranter, “Go, Little Book“, Overland, Summer 2014.
I read this fascinating essay by Tranter in the wake of reading a few short reviews of my book the thin bridge, and it seemed to make some sense of the swirl of enigmatic and contrary feelings I’d experienced. Reading reviews, I found myself scanning the page for negative words and impressions. I read implied criticism into ambiguity, a nonplussed tone into what was actually mere description. I swelled at the unambiguous praise and felt the reviewer must be insightful; they really “got it”. I read these reviews a second time, carefully, expecting both condemnation and celebration. Somewhere in my nerves, I was a genius and a fraud, and I just knew the review would uncover either or both of these truths.
It’s analagous to standing naked in front of a doctor, or a mirror. Awkward, heightened, nowhere to hide. But the thing is, is there any “truth” to be found there? Doesn’t it depend on what we’re looking for?
Crown Publishing, a division Penguin Random House, has a new program to make it easier for online book reviewers to get their hands on the company’s latest releases. Blogging for Books allows reviewers to register and receive complimentary copies of Crown Publishing titles in exchange for their honest review. The site currently has over two million books in its collection.
The program is open to reviewers who have an active blog, as well as to librarians, booksellers and media outlets. To participate reviewers must first register on the site here. American reviewers are asked to provide their postal address so they can receive physical copies of the books, while reviewers based in other countries can only receive eBook editions.