Editor's Note: This blog post originated as an MLG Newsletter, sent to subscribers earlier today. If you'd like to receive future newsletters via email, you can subscribe here. You're, of course, also welcome to be a part of the development of my book on creative writing — by pre-purchasing the ebook (see links below), making a donation in support of our travels, or by responding to my request, herein, for your invaluable input.IN WEDNESDAY's blog post (didn't receive it? click here), I wrote of Mufidah's and my working together on Tuesday afternoon in the Parc Napoléon III in Vichy, and mentioned some soon-to-come announcements which would follow as a result. One such announcement is the subject of today's MLG newsletter — my deciding the time is right for me to write a book on creative writing.
A book, that is, which naturally follows from the way I teach writing. As most of the folk who subscribe to this newsletter are either students or one-to-one clients, they'll know, firsthand, how I teach (or non-teach). For those who don't, well, I'd suggest booking a block of one-to-one sessions with me, which I can deliver to you at your convenience via a combination of Skype, telephone or email. And I think my aforementioned students and clients will agree that more comes from my teaching of writing than the art of writing itself. If you're not a student or client, you won't have to read many (unsolicited) testimonials to see this for yourself.
In American parlance, creative writing teachers — like writers — are a dime a dozen. And many of you likewise know that there are countless writers out there who teach writing — privately or at the university or postgraduate level — who might be good at their craft but are lousy teachers. That's the reason many of you have come to my classes, after having had middling to damagingly meddling experiences with such teachers, including perhaps in your primary and secondary schooling years.
It's a story I hear often.
Many of you have also reported a lack, or total absence, of a place in such writing classes for the spirit, soul, or heart to shine forth. This tends to be overlooked, willfully downplayed, or edged out of existence by a hellbent focus on the craft of writing, industry shorthand for the writing of saleable books. And this saleability often has little to do with the quality of, or even the true demand for such, writing. The teaching of craft can also lead to formulaic writing which is focused not so much on originality of thought and expression but in fitting the confines of a particular genre for marketing purposes.
More fundamentally, though, many of you have little to no interest in selling your writing, but treasure the act of writing itself, as well as the pleasure and insight it gives you and those with whom you share your work.
In my classes, the spirit, the soul, or the heart — or however you might refer to this entity or quality of being which enlivens and inspires us — comes first. It is, therefore, this aspect of my teaching which I intend to interweave throughout my book on creative writing.
I want this book to be fresh, alive and chockablock with that which helps to draw out our inherently creative selves (the essence, by the way, of true education) in a world which so often gives us a multitude of reasons to keep mum about our own life experiences, including the fleshing out of our own thoughts and feelings.
So, just as with my classes, the focus of the book will not be on publication (though countless professional writers have said they've benefitted tremendously from my classes), but on writing as a means to empower ourselves, to reawaken and reengage with the world through close observation of the world within and without — the world as it exists within ourselves and all around us. We might even begin to notice that these worlds are not separate, that they coexist, that we are a creative part of that very world within which we live. In the process of focusing on the process itself, good writing comes naturally, and gets better and better the more we write.
This book will, therefore, aim at helping writers at all levels — beginners, amateurs (in the best sense of the word) and professionals — to write more confidently, with greater ease and flexibility, and, thereby, to write better — simply, more fluidly, and more honestly, from the heart.
Our '98 Fiat Punto, just outside of Vichy, France
In a nutshell, I'd like you to help me
make this book the very best it can be ...
So I encourage you to take a few minutes to write me a brief email and tell me what would make this book valuable to you. No, more than valuable — an essential book on writing, the writing life, and life itself. A top contender, that is, for your desert island selection. Perhaps what Basho's travel sketches and Deng Ming-Dao's 365 Tao are for me as two of the very few books which made the cut when Mufidah and I decided to leave behind our inspiring and quite comfortable life in Lewes to travel in, and live out of, our '98 Fiat Punto and the tent it carries.
Also, having been inspired by the ideas contained within this article from the founder of the wildly successful CopyBlogger website, I've decided to pre-sell the ebook as a means to honor those who have been, or who want to be, a crucial part of the writing of this book — either by sharing your ideas to make it better or by helping to fund its development. Or, ideally, both.
If you'd like to pre-purchase my ebook — and simultaneously be of invaluable help in keeping Mufidah and me in sufficient dosh to live and travel by while I write the book, click the below link to make a (discounted) £3.49 payment via PayPal. You can use your debit or credit card, or pay directly out of your PayPal account if you have one.
And for those of you who might like to donate even more to help us fulfill our lifelong dream of traveling without a fixed destination and living simply on the road for an unspecified length of time as a means to experience and document new places, peoples and cultures, simply click the link below and enter into PayPal the total amount you'd like to donate.
Whether you pre-pay just £3.49 — or decide to donate according to your means — when the ebook is complete, you'll be amongst the very first to receive it. As those of you who have been in my classes know, I can write quite quickly, particularly when on a topic that's been intertwined with my day-to-day existence for years now. That said, neither do I want to rush the book. So I am going to estimate that it will take between three and six months to complete. And throughout, of course, I'll continue to work while on the road — writing the book, blog posts, newsletter updates, articles, and teaching and such. So thank you in advance for your patience and ongoing support.
In closing, I again encourage you to write me a brief email to let me know what, from your perspective, would make this an essential book on writing, the writer's life, and life itself. Also, for those of you who've taken my classes, are there special in- or out-of-class moments which were particularly important, or otherwise special, to you? Thank you in advance for your consideration.
With love and warm regards,