- Paperback: 128 pages
- Publisher: Sublime Books (March 5, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1627556214
- ISBN-13: 978-1627556217
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.3 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 234 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #172,880 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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If You Want to Write: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit Paperback – March 5, 2014
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Unfortunately, the BN Publishing edition - a print on demand service - is terrible. There are missing letters, missing words, odd line jumps, and other marks of a hasty electronic conversion.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in doing any creative work. But I would also urge you to buy a different edition.
This is a charming book about creativity and doing your creative work without fear. The author is a writer so it focuses more on writing than other creative tasks, but she assures us repeatedly that her advice is universal regardless of medium.
Her writing style has charm, I don't know how else to put it, and it has the cadence of its time, the 1930's. That the book is still in print more than 70 years after its publication date says much about the universal ideas within and the quality of its expression.
Euland's first chapter title states: "Everybody Is Talented, Original, and Has Something to Say". What a vote of confidence for the aspiring, timid writer. Every ensuing chapter contains fresh insights that will expand the mind, and stir the imagination.
She writes of lofty things. Of poetry and sonnets. Of Shakespeare, Doystoyevsky, Chekhov, and the Third Dimension. Her observations of other writers works are captivating.
When speaking of T.E Lawrence and his "Seven Pillars of Wisdom," she notes: "It is a work of genius, and the beauty of his writing has not been seen in English for a long time. I think it is because of the Third Dimension, the great personality of Lawrence behind it. Instead of him living a sedentary, literary life, polishing sentences, and cultivating a prose style, he lived a great life with supernatural standards for himself of courage, suffering, endurance, and honor. And so his book is better writing than a century of merely literary men."
Euland has a theory about him. "Lawrence seems to me like an Elizabethan Englishman, and his writing has the same quality. In Elizabeth's time, during the Renaissance, people felt that the "personality" was the important thing, not a man's ideas alone or his work."
She points out how that has changed. Today we might say "Do not pay attention to his "personality" it is his ideas that are the important thing".
The author wears many hats throughout the book. She's not only a writing teacher, but a cheerleader, mentor, history teacher, and guide. She speaks of the need for great national literature, and that it is because of the critics, the doubters (in the outer world and within ourselves) that we have such hesitancy when we write.
In the last chapter (p.160) Euland sums up her advice to the writer and artist:
1). Know that it is good to work.
2). Work with love and think of liking it when you do it.
3). It is easy and interesting.
4). It is a privilege.
5). There is nothing hard about it, but your anxious vanity and fear of
6). Try to discover your true, honest, untheoretical self.
Euland's book feels like a meditation and examination of the writing life. To me, it had a dreamy, calming quality, as if writing might be the most natural of all mankind's endeavours. Her book is a great gift for any writer or artistic person.
It is one of those gems that can be re-read and referred back to for fresh insights and encouragement when the writer is feeling discouraged and bogged down. It's a reminder that we can create beauty from our creative effort and enrich our own lives, as well as others. Very, very highly recommended!
Author Brenda Ueland was born in Minneapolis (my former home) in 1891, and lived on Lake Calhoun (the lake featured in the Mary Tyler Moore show's opening clip). She was knighted by the King of Norway and set an international swimming record (for over-80-year-olds). She died in 1985 at the age of 93.
This book, according to many preceding me, has inspired thousands to find the creative genius buried deep within, and to express it without any regard to "criticism, self-doubt, duty, nervous fear, anxiety, about making a living, and fear of not excelling." Ueland affirms that we are all filled with possibility, have a creative power which be kept alive in all of us for all of our lives. It is our Spirit and we keep it alive by using it.
This book is a gem and is bound to inspire all to open up, explore their Spirit, and put it to good use. I would expand Sandburg's quote to - maybe the best book ever written on using our inner genius and creativity, whether it is writing, composing, or the visual arts. I enjoyed "If You Want to Write" and found an even greater freedom of artistic expression. I, too, get bottled up with concern about criticism, and self-doubt.