How Many Books on Writing Does a Writer Need?

In preparation for my upcoming stint as an adjunct professor and writer in residence at the Earlham School of Religion, I’m making my way through all my writing books, to see what I can glean that might be of interest and benefit to the students. I thought about counting how many books I had on the topic, but at about number thirty-eight I became embarrassed because  I know, like many of you, that there comes a time in a writer’s life when he has to put down the how-to books and resist the urge to plan yet another trip to a writing conference, and simply, well, write. But we also know it’s not simple. Anything I can to help another person learn to call herself “writer,” I want to do. So I’m starting with my vast library, and I plan to pick out what I think are the juiciest parts and share them with my students. For now, though, I’ll be posting some of them here, in the hopes that you might let me know which resources you rely on most for your work. In the end, I’ll pass along the books I no longer need. Sooner or later I’ll feel compelled to buy some more anyway…

From May Sarton, in A Self-Portrait (Norton, 1982):

“It’s thought and feeling together, this is what makes the poem for me, when you can think and feel at white heat.”

“You have to be willing, as Yeats says, ‘there’s more enterprise in going naked.’ You finally do have to give something terribly intimate and secret of yourself to the world and not care because you have to believe that what you have to say is important enough.”

Jump Start Your Writing in the New Year: Creative Resolutions 2011, A Writing Workshop for Women

Amy Lyles Wilson and ALIGN Wellness Studio Announce

“Creative Resolutions 2011: A Writing Workshop for Women”

Writer and editor Amy Lyles Wilson believes it is the sharing of our stories that saves us, and she invites you to write your heart out in a supportive environment designed to encourage your voice and silence the inner critic. Through prompts, readings, and resources, you’ll get the New Year off to a productive start in this workshop facilitated under the principles of Amherst Writers and Artists. This is not a critique group, and writers of all experience—and confidence—levels are welcomed, respected, and nurtured. Come claim your chair around the table for a morning of creativity and conversation.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Meet and Greet: 9:00 a.m.; Workshop: 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

ALIGN Wellness Studio

Cost: $50:00

Limited to 12 Participants

Call ALIGN to reserve your spot: 615-383-0148

Amy Lyles Wilson co-authored Bless Your Heart: Saving the World One Covered Dish at a Time (Thomas Nelson), and is a columnist and blogger for Her Nashville magazine, She has worked in publishing for more than 25 years, and her byline has appeared in a variety of publications, as well as on NPR’s “This I Believe.” She is a trained affiliate of Amherst Writers & Artists, and a graduate of Millsaps College, the University of Mississippi, and Vanderbilt University Divinity School. More at

“Being in Amy Lyles Wilson’s workshop is better than getting a massage!”—Kristi

ALIGN Wellness Studio, Belle Meade Plaza, 4544 Harding Pike, Suite 215


Agent Angst

Writers often contact me asking, “How do I get an agent?” I often respond, “I’m not sure.” Because, like many of the curves on the path to publication, it’s tricky. It’s also competitive. Where I find myself is cheerleading the minority, those few publishing peers who think you can get a fair deal without an agent. I’ve spent most of my 25-year publishing career with small- to mid-list presses. Today I work in acquisitions with a nonprofit religious publisher. We do not offer what many would consider “big” advances. But nor do we, in my opinion, take advantage of authors.

I do not think authors should take “just anything” that is offered to them. And I agree with those who say having an agent is a great way to go. With the ever-changing landscape of royalties, as related to digital rights, etc., it will probably become even more advantageous to have someone who can help the author “figure things out” with regard to contracts. But I do want to encourage those who don’t have agents: They may be hard to find, but there are opportunities out there that can be beneficial for both the publisher and the author. As with everything in life today, or so it seems, you can find information online about agents. You could start here:

Takeaway Tip: If you’re not already following agents, editors, publishers, and writers–especially those related to your genre–on Twitter, and reading their blogs, get busy.

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