The first time I read a Terry Brooks book, I was twelve years old and a curious thing happened: I heard not the voice of the characters, or the usual narrator in my head, but my voice reading the story back. It was a disconcerting sort of feeling, and as I read through the Shannara books,this nagging strangeness bothered me so much so that I didn’t quite enjoy them.
I’ve always wondered why that happened. Was I picking up something familiar in the shape of the words, the echoes of speech pattern? Or was I reacting to something that plucked a little too deeply into my core that it was unsettling? It’s never happened before or after, and I sometimes wonder if I read the books again now if it would be the same.
So, I was curious when I discovered Terry Brooks had written a book on writing. I picked it up at the library, and finished it in one sitting. I’ve read Stephen King’s memoir ‘On Writing’ which is an excellent biography, with a sprinkling of advice. I’ve always been more interested in the stories of why people became writers rather than craft books. “Sometimes the magic works” is similar in that regard. Brooks takes us through some of his experiences, and what shaped him as a writer.
Perhaps I shouldn’t have been surprised, but this book resonated with me more than King’s. Reading about his childhood, I could could see echoes of my own life and thought processes. Is this what I recognized so many years ago?
Writers live in two worlds — the real world of friends and family and the imaginary world of their writing. If you were to measure the difference in time spent between this two, I suspect you would find it quite small… but a writer can’t ever leave either for very long. pg 5
Ask E about my inattention. Sometimes I get so caught up in story I don’t hear him. I also had a friend once who mentioned he could tell it was me walking down the hall from the way I wasn’t paying attention to anything as I walked. I read E a few bits from the book and he laughed. “Are all writers the same? That sounds just like you.”
There are practical bits of advice for writers in the book, but I found most valuable was how it made me see that I am definitely a writer, and not clearly insane. LOL though, perhaps just a little. Writing is such sweet madness.
And some advice from Terry Brooks:
- If you do not hear music in your words, you have put too much thought into your writing, and not enough heart.
- If you do not ever wonder what happened to your characters after you stopped writing about the, you did not care enough about them in the first place and do not deserve to know.
- If you are ever completely satisfied with something you have written, you are setting your sights too low. But if you can’t let go of your material even after you have done the best that you can do with it, you are setting your sights too high.
- If you do not love what you do, if you are not appropriately grateful for the chance to create something magical each time you sit down at the computer or with pencil and paper in hand, somewhere along the way your writing will betray you.
- If you don’t think there is magic in writing, you probably won’t write anything magical.
- For those who cannot or will not walk away, you need only remember this. Writing is life. Breathe deeply of it.
Pg 196-197 of “Sometimes the Magic Works by Terry Brooks”