Once upon a time a young girl dreamed of becoming a writer. As she grew up, she wrote a few things in secret but she never told anyone her dream. Then she met her handsome prince (actually a geology student, but still a prince!) and they married. When she told him her dream, he urged her to go for it.
She knew there were things she didn’t know, so she headed for the library, where all knowledge is stored, and found two books on writing. With much hope and trepidation, she opened the first book. The first paragraph was a diatribe against “women who wrote semi-autobiographies” and dared to call themselves writers. He asserted that you’d already know if you were a genius and if you didn’t know it right then, you weren’t.
She almost stopped there, but the next book was called Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande. Brande (1893-1948) was a “well-respected writer and editor in New York.” Becoming a Writer was released in 1934 and is still in print.
The back cover blurb tells us that it “recaptures the excitement of Dorothea Brande’s creative writing classroom of the 1920’s. Decades before brain research “discovered” the role of the right and left brain, Brande was teaching students how to see again…how to call forth the inner writer.”
In stark contrast to the bitter diatribe of the book whose title I don’t remember, (and don’t want to remember) Brande noted how many authors asserted that genius could not be taught, thus dealing a death blow to hopeful authors. In the last paragraph of her introduction, she writes that “this book, I believe, will be unique; for I…think there is magic, and that it is teachable. This book is all about the writer’s magic.”
Becoming a Writer smashed the parsimony of the other author and poured water onto the tendrils of my writing hopes. In its pages, I learned to think like a writer and discover the magic inside myself. I had a lot to learn after this book, about craft and technique, etc, but first I had to believe that I could become. To my knowledge there still isn’t a book quite like this, though I do not know that for sure.
But thanks to Brande, my 12th novel released this year.
Normally, I don’t write a lot about the process of writing, because not everyone who visits this blog wants to become a writer. But I wanted to highlight this book, because it is more than a book about becoming a writer, it is a book about daring to dream, about finding people who will nourish our hopes and avoiding those who would stomp all over them. Natalie Goldberg calls them “poisonmakers.”
I hope this blog will give you permission to eject (or nudge) from your life the people who mock or stomp or crush your dreams–or at least bring your blocking shields online if they can’t be ejected–and replace them with people who encourage you to hope and dream big dreams.
That’s not to say that dreams aren’t hard work, but believing in them is the first step to achieving them. That young girl made a long journey between reading Becoming a Writer and actually becoming one. But had I let that first book stop me in my tracks, I wouldn’t be writing this blog post.
Dreams can take many shapes and forms. Not everyone wants to be an author, but good advice is good advice. I highly recommend Brande’s book for anyone who feels stomped on by poisonmakers.
|My 12th release.|
And for a more current source of positive Karma, check out Kristen Lamb’s blog. Even if writing isn’t your thing, she’s inspiring and funny.
So, my question for you, dear readers is this: when your mind gets quiet, what dreams spin through your thoughts? Are you working toward them or letting someone poison them? Any books, websites and blogs that inspire you? Do share.
Pauline Baird Jones has dreamed her way through twelve books and some short stories. Some have even won awards. She has “become.” You can find out more about her and her books on her website.