Lots of reading in January. Let’s start with the non-fiction:
- Writing to the Point by Algis Budrys was an interesting book, but it didn’t really work for me. I am not sure why. I think it wasn’t as useful to me now as I am trying to get these books finished as it would have been if I was ready to publish. His advice about not needing an agent, for example, was good, but it isn’t where I am at now.
- Schooled: How the System Breaks Teachers by Dalton Jackson was a very frightening but very accurate picture of teaching today — at least at the high school level. I wish people who are not in the classroom every day would read it because it would give them a much better picture of what teachers are up against. This isn’t the usual anti-testing rant (which I would agree with, too!) but rather more working with parents and teachers. While I never really had the kinds of negative experiences he did on my last job, the potential is always there. It is, I think, especially dangerous for men.
- Jump Start Your Novel by Mark Teppo was a writing book that really spoke to me where I am right now. It is about outlining for non-outliners, about getting your ideas for a book down on paper so you can start to write it. I tried his method with the second book I am working on, and I was amazed by ow it made me look at things differently. I was confused about who the story is really about, and now I’m not. I am 30,000 words into the story, but this method helped me see it all more clearly. I tried the method retroactively on the first book, and I was happy to see that it worked pretty well, that the story I wrote fits his pattern. There was a little confusion in one spot, and I recognized that this is the part of the book that I am still not really happy with, so I now have some ideas of how to fix it.
I have to go to work now, so I will come back to this later to cover the other categories of books.