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Pen on Fire: A Busy Woman's Guide to Igniting the Writer Within Paperback – October 4, 2004
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"Pen on Fire is a gym for writers with Barbara DeMarco-Barrett, who teaches, coaxes, and cheers us on." -Diane Leslie, author of Fleur de Leigh's Life of Crime
"A wonderful mix of the practical and the inspirational." -T. Jefferson Parker, author of Cold Pursuit
Top Customer Reviews
The subtitle of the book is "A Busy Woman's Guide to Igniting the Writer Within," and some of the text definitely has a feminine slant. Women who work, who raise children, who have trouble taking time for themselves, are encouraged to write in any and all available chunks of time. Waiting for red lights, for the water to boil, in the dentist's waiting room, all can be opportunities to get words on paper, or in laptop.
But make no mistake - any aspiring writer, male or female, at almost any level, will benefit from spending time with Pen on Fire. DeMarco-Barrett begins on a gentle note, cajoling and urging and promising to guide us into a writer's life, even if it's in 15-minute chunks. She offers suggestions for mining your own life for ideas, for developing your knack for dialog by eavesdropping.
She even tackles the touchy issues of whether you should write about friends and family. How much should you make up? How much should you show them in advance? What if they read a journal and take offense? DeMarco-Barrett covers it all.
One of the greatest features in this book are the extensive use of interviews of well-known authors, whom DeMarco-Barrett meets while producing a Southern California radio show called Writers on Writing. There may be no absolutes when it comes to, say, discussing a work in progress, or how much plotting needs to be done in advance, or how much research is too much. But it's fascinating to hear from successful writers about how they manage their craft.Read more ›
The author puts her finger directly on the pulse of the problem in the chapter on obstacles to writing. For example, she says that she had her cable TV removed from her home, because to have "a writing life", you must "spend all spare moments writing to get momentum going". This in itself is a major obstacle when for anyone with an active family.
My guess is that few families would be willing to give up access to television for their writer-in-residence. That discipline may be up to the writer; certainly it is possible to write in a location that is far removed from the family entertainment center.
DeMarco-Barrett also discusses the problem of housework vs. writing, but this, too is a specious argument. Add to this list the author's confessed addiction to email and whatever other incidentals interfere with the scheduled writing. It isn't helpful, once I am this far into the book, to address such issues so simplistically. The chatty format is user-friendly, but hasn't the weight of serious discussion, although I am aware that the author is appealing to her reader in this fashion by design.
DeMarco-Barrett mentions such details as the importance of rituals, workspace, and the chapter-by-chapter reminder to "set your timer".Read more ›
The 15-minute exercises at the end of each chapter are particularly wonderful, akin to practical meditations.
This book is aimed at busy women who want to start writing, but I think busy men and anyone who already writes can benefit as well. It is a great book, one that should live on the desk rather than the bookshelf.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Pen on Fire is an inspiring book that I refer to often. It is my favorite book on writing not only because Barbara Demarco relates to being a parent and knows what it means to... Read morePublished 4 months ago by jennifer
I like it. It's the kind of book that motivates a busy woman like me to write, so it serves its purpose.Published 7 months ago by Sammah
Reading and taking on a trip so I can practice some of her great ideas.Published 8 months ago by Linda A. Wilson
There are many, many well written books on writing by writers (Anne Lamont - Bird by Bird, Stephen King, - the list goes on and on,) why waste time or money on a book written by a... Read morePublished on March 31, 2014 by Judy Cabito
I tried to read it from beginning to end. Got lost in there. Would like to have had the author give out more ideas instead of so much opinion.
Sometimes short 10 -15 bursts of writing is what a writer needs to stay motivated. This books teaches writers how to discipline themselves to write and seize time before time slips... Read morePublished on January 7, 2014 by Anne H.
Don't know if I will get to finish this one as I am in the second draft of my novel set in medieval Spain.Published on December 26, 2013 by Kindle Customer
Described as a busy woman's guide to igniting the writer within.
This is the perfect book for individuals who want to start writing but never seem to find the time. Read more
Great book, good ideas, makes you want to pick up your pen and get busy. So many ideas, so little time.Published on January 18, 2013 by E. LeMay