Book Review, Books!, Inspiration, Signal Boost, Weekend Writer, Writing

Weekend Writer: Light the Dark – Writers on Creativity, Inspiration and the Artistic Process — Part One

Hey all, Dani here.

Okay, I’m sorry that today’s post is so late. Today was somewhat of a bad mental health day for me. I’ve just been feeling like I’m putting a lot of work into some of my hobbies but having more and more moments where I’m not feeling as fulfilled. It has definitely been a mental struggle, made more difficult by my limited time with Damian since we are still currently working different shifts, and the fact that my sleep schedule is still a big mess. I don’t like to be the person who sits around complaining, because overall I know that there are so many people out there in much more difficult situations than mine, but sometimes I just need to have a tiny moment to complain…so I guess thanks for letting me just vent that out a little bit.

In other news, I think the way I’m feeling makes this book sort of the perfect one to pick up. Let’s get started.

It would be really cool for all of us who want to write creatively (whether that is poetry, stories, novellas, novels, screenplays, RPGs, video games, whatever) to be able to help uplift and inspire each other, and keep ourselves motivated to strive for our dreams, so I decided to start this blog series here. This series will be a lot of me working through books on writing and creativity, maybe doing and sharing some writing exercises, and possibly doing some writing based discussion posts. It’s going to be an adventure for sure, and I hope it helps you as much as it is helping me.

Light the Dark: Writers on Creativity, Inspiration, and the Artistic Process

Book Details

Format: paperback

Pages: 334

Publisher: Penguin Books

Publication Date: September 26, 2017

ISBN: 0143130846 (ISBN13: 9780143130840)

Summary

A stunning guide to finding creative inspiration and how it can illuminate your life, your work, and your art—from Stephen King, Junot Díaz, Elizabeth Gilbert, Amy Tan, Khaled Hosseini, Roxane Gay, Neil Gaiman, and many more acclaimed writers

What inspires you? That’s the simple, but profound question posed to forty-six renowned authors in LIGHT THE DARK. Each writer begins with a favorite passage from a novel, a song, a poem—something that gets them started and keeps them going with the creative work they love. From there, incredible lessons and stories of life-changing encounters with art emerge, like how sneaking books into his job as a night security guard helped Khaled Hosseini learn that nothing he creates will ever be truly finished. Or how a college reading assignment taught Junot Díaz that great art can be a healing conversation, and an unexpected poet led Elizabeth Gilbert to embrace an unyielding optimism, even in the face of darkness. LIGHT THE DARK collects the best of The Atlantic‘s much-acclaimed “By Heart” series edited by Joe Fassler and adds brand new pieces, each one paired with a striking illustration. Here is a guide to creative living and writing in the vein of Daily Rituals, Bird by Bird, and Big Magic for anyone who wants to learn how great writers find inspiration—and how to find some of your own.

CONTRIBUTING AUTHORS: Elizabeth Gilbert, Junot Díaz, Marilynne Robinson, Jonathan Lethem, Michael Chabon, Aimee Bender, Mary Gaitskill, Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Roxane Gay, Angela Flournoy, Jonathan Franzen, Yiyun Li, Leslie Jamison, Claire Messud, Edwidge Danticat, David Mitchell, Khaled Hosseini, Ayana Mathis, Kathryn Harrison, Azar Nafisi, Hanya Yanagihara, Jane Smiley, Nell Zink, Emma Donoghue, Jeff Tweedy, Eileen Myles, Maggie Shipstead, Sherman Alexie, Andre Dubus III, Billy Collins, Lev Grossman, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Charles Simic, Jim Shepard, T.C. Boyle, Tom Perrotta, Viet Than Nguyen, William Gibson, Mark Haddon, Ethan Canin, Jessie Ball, Jim Crace, and Walter Mosley.

“As [these authors] reveal what inspires them, they, in turn, inspire the reader, all while celebrating the beauty and purpose of art.” –Booklist

My Thoughts

Okay, so my approach with this month’s book was to count up how many essays there were and then try to divide it up as evenly as possible over the four Weekend Writer posts for March. For today’s post I think I looked at the first eleven essays.

The essays I read this week were: “Light the Dark” by Aimee Bender, “Leaving the Reservation of the Mind” by Sherman Alexie, “In Praise of Stubborn Gladness” by Elizabeth Gilbert, “You’ve Been Here Before” by Stephen King, “Pixel by Pixel” by Amy Tan, “A Friend of the Mind” by Junot Diaz, “The Handshake” by William Gibson, “Everything I Meant to Say” by Khaled Hosseini, “Do Not Think, Dream” by Andre Dubes III, and “I Don’t Know You Anymore” by Mary Gaitskill.

I’ll be honest: there were a few of these authors I’ve never heard of before, and several who I’ve heard of but never read, but I did still find a certain inspiration in their words.

This is not a typical book on the craft of writing. You won’t find practical guidance on description, plot, characterization, voice, sentence structure, revision, or any of the technical details in these pages…or if you do parse that from the essays then it will be more vague and generalized detail.

But you will find powerful words or phrases that may speak to the creative heart and soul within you, and in reading these words, it just might spark that match of creativity that you’ve been yearning to strike.

I read these essays while trying to de-stress with a soothing bath, so unfortunately I wasn’t able to mark passages that did resonate within me, but several of the essays did have a sentence or a small string of sentences that made me feel like I could actually do this writing thing.

I’ve been struggling with my creative drive lately, using some for this blog and then most of it for my planning for the D&D campaign I’m running, which leaves very little of that drive available for my creative pursuits. The ideas are cycling through my mind but they freeze the moment I try to get them on the page or screen.

I’ve been hoping that pursuing this blogging series will help me find the inspiration, the drive, the motivation, to break through whatever creative barrier is trapping me, and in some aspects I feel like I have made progress, but in other ways I’m definitely still struggling. I have been feeling so alone with my struggles, even though I know there are plenty of writers and other creatives who deal with the same or similar issues.

I can say that I wrote down some more of the character and plot notes for my story over the past few days. It’s not a lot of progress, but I guess it’s something.

Part Two / Part Three / Part Four

Links to Other Weekend Writer Posts

Introduction — Wonderbook by Jeff Vandermeer — Embrace Your Weird by Felicia Day — The Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell — No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty — The War of Art by Steven Pressfield — On Being Stuck by Laraine Harris — The Kobold Guide to Worldbuilding edited by Janna Silverstein — Light the Dark edited by Joe Fossler —

Where to Get a Copy

If you found this writing advice helpful, you can pick up your own copy of this book from AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-a-millionBook Depository, or your local independent bookstore through IndieBound.

You can also check with your local library.

5 thoughts on “Weekend Writer: Light the Dark – Writers on Creativity, Inspiration and the Artistic Process — Part One”

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