Ralph Keyes’ The Writer’s Book of Hope manages to be most encouraging to any writer and very interesting to anyone else. This book is well-written, funny, challenging, consoling and very informative. If there is a writer who ever said anything interesting and provocative about writing, there is a good chance he or she is quoted in this book. We read Nobel Prize Winner Thomas Mann’s remark that “The writer is someone for whom writing is harder than for other people;” novelist Gail Godwin’s reflection about time spent writing with little energy and hope: “I find I have indeed written some sentences that wouldn’t have been there if I hadn’t gone up to write them;” and a hundred others. Such observations encourage writers as they find their own doubts and frustrations mirrored in those who have overcome them. Perhaps most important, the writer realizes that he or she is part of the great fellowship of writers not because of publishing success, but through the simple act of showing up steadily to write. This is the central theme of the book: stay with your writing; don’t give up; don’t be stopped by mood, doubt, confusion or fear, and something will come of it. A writer who has this book next to the computer has a most helpful friend as company. Someone who gives this book to beginning, or even accomplished, writers has found a believable way to offer support and useable knowledge.
The book is full of clear information about subtle and direct discouragers of writing and about the availability of encouragers and where to find them. Keyes tells the writer how to get started, keep going, get help and how to finally find and influence publishers to get your book in print. Chapter titles include “Dealing with Discouragers,” “Exorcizing Excuses,” and “The Publishing Tribe.” Ralph Keyes has been teaching writing for over thirty years while himself publishing ten books and countless articles. The writer henefits from the experience and insight of a person who has watched hundreds of writing projects begin and far fewer achieve completion — and has learned what makes the difference.
Charles J. O’Leary, Ph.D, Arvada, CO