I’ve read enough self-help and inspirational books, and books about writing, to last a lifetime, so when I spied The Writer’s Book of Hope at my public library, I hesitated. But the title caught my eye, and I ended up gulping it down it in a few sessions. I’m glad I did-it’s given me a new perspective on my writing practice. I’ve learned that frustration, cluelessness, and despair are a normal part of the writing process. And while I still encounter the same writing problems I did before, I’m more easygoing about them. It’s as if I’ve adopted a new attitude: “So I’m clueless at the moment-that’s OK, it will pass.” I’m much more at ease and confident of my abilities, and I’ve developed a broader perspective on the writing process-all of which is increasing my productivity and enjoyment at my typewriter.
The book is clearly the result of a lot of research. (Check out the photos on Keyes’ Web site showing the yards of file cabinets in his house.) Keyes doesn’t trot out the tired authors’ anecdotes that we’ve all heard before; he serves up a host of tidbits that were new to me. The quotes by masters (such as Tolstoy) about their lack of “talent” are alone worth the price of the book. I also appreciated Keyes’ no-nonsense tone. I was expecting New Age warmth and fuzziness, but Keyes pulls no punches. Take his observation that some people who give up writing do so not because they lack talent, but because they are uncomfortable spending long periods alone. That’s not a “nice” thing to say, but it’s truthful and important to know.
The Writer’s Book of Hope delivers on its promise. It provides practical hope and inspiration to writers based on a clear-eyed view of the writing profession. It gave me a new lease on my writing life.
Adam Schwartz, Bloomington, IN