Dorethea Brande’s Becoming A Writer
This book is touted as the Writer’s Bible and almost every writer that I’ve come across has recommended this book or is at least aware of its existence.
Dorethea Brande has given me quite possibly the most practical and blunt advice I have ever been given as a writer and she has done so all through a book. Labelled as a classic, Dorethea’s book was actually published in 1934 but that doesn’t make it any less relevant today. She talks of pure common sense in her approaches to writing and many a tutor I’ve had has recommended her section on Morning Pages, even if you weren’t to read the rest of the book. I’ve always kept a journal and for a year of my creative writing course at Uni I did religiously keep morning pages and I can thoroughly recommend the process as it’s one of those habits which pays off dividends for your creativity. Dorethea suggests rising half an hour, or possibly a full hour earlier, than your usual time and simply writing for the sake of writing. The wonderful aspect of this book is Dorethea’s insistence that the habit of writing can be taught. This is one of those books which I will keep forever on my bookshelves and refer back to when I need that extra writing boost. It also goes to show that almost 80 years later, this book still has something relevant to offer.
Rosier Boycott’s Our Farm.
Admittedly, a slightly random choice but I came across this book when browsing through my wonderful local book farm, even though I was searching for a book about how to train budgies (the book farm is extremely diverse!) I think I was attracted to this book because it remains a dream of mine to up and move to the countryside and have my own piece of land, although I’m certainly under no illusions about the hard work involved. Rosie was the highly successful editor of The Daily Express but after a life changing incident she and her husband decided to take on a small farm in Somerset. As overwhelming as the project becomes at times, and we’re not just talking financially, they both have their eyes opened up to a new way of living and this book charts their emotionally fraught journey. Rosie has not only written a personal account about her experience, she also highlights the stark realisation as to just how little the farmers of our country make and what they have to contend with; her breakdown of producing eggs for profit will leave you bewildered! This is a lovely read and still hasn’t dampened my hankering for this way of life…
Our Story Ron and Reg Kray with Fred Dinenage.
Okay, so Legend is out in cinemas (I still haven’t seen it as yet) and a film release usually spawns a ménage of books based on the movie. This book is making its rounds yet again having first been published in 1988, and this is most likely due to Tom Hardy’s portrayal of the duo in Legend. Our Story has been pushed back into the book charts by those hoping to get a glimpse into the real men behind the headlines. The problem is, considering the notoriety the Kray name tended to bring people close to them, there has been an awful lot of people selling their version of events. Just a few months ago I read One of the Family: 40 Years with the Krays, another personal account of the Kray twins written by Maureen Flanagan, the lady who cut Violet Kray’s hair. Considering Violet was the much loved mother of the twins, Maureen eventually became a friend of the family for over 40 years. Whilst her account seemed an honest portrayal, I can’t help but think it went against the way the brothers wanted themselves to be seen as I read Our Story. Pure and simple, the Kray’s killed and ran an extortion racket so many would say that they deserved what they got. However, there are always two sides to every story and although I don’t condone what they did I felt this was as true a portrayal as we are ever going to get. The truth is that neither one of the brothers denied what they did nor how they behaved, they actually give a full account of the details of the crimes they committed in this book. There’s also no denying that their sentences were extremely harsh and related to their increasing popularity more than the actual crimes themselves. Each man’s admission highlighted the realities of the life they were living and what they needed to do to survive. Although the subject may not be to everyone’s taste, this book is worth a read, if not to simply dispel some of the myths, tales and indeed legends that have been created by those who claimed to know the men.
Having taken advantage of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited, a subscription service where for £7.99 per month you can access up to 650,000 kindle books at your leisure, I thought I had better start getting my money’s worth.
Christie Barlow’s A Year in The Life of a Playground Mother was my first purchase and although an easy read I did find it very relatable. Having braved the school gates for many years now, as a full-time working Mum, a part-time working mum, a stay-at-home mum and as a student, I could probably write a book myself about the sheer torture of what in reality should be a simple procedure of dropping off and picking up your children from school every day. Christie obviously has hands-on experience because some of this stuff you couldn’t make up and I couldn’t help but nod away to myself (much to people’s amusement) as Rachel believes she has seen the last of the playground mafia when she leaves the inner city to embark upon a new life in the countryside. What she soon comes to realise though is that the school run is a gauntlet regardless of where you live! A light and easy read and I have already bought Christie’s second instalment, The Misadventures of a Playground Mother.
The Rejected Writers Book Club by Suzanne Kelman club was my second kindle choice. A bit fluffy and lightweight for my liking but I did enjoy the concept behind the book. The rejected group is for writers who constantly seem to keep receiving ‘no’ for their literary submissions. The group pride themselves on being on route to collecting 500 rejection letters between them. The only problem is should one of those letters become an acceptance letter, that person needs to leave the group as is surplus to requirements. I enjoyed the idea of such a group as it’s actually a wonderful way of looking at rejection. The story was a light an easy read and a good holiday read I suppose but the road trip the group takes borders along the lines of cheesy, for want of a better word. Still, it’s worth a look at if you have an hour or two to spare.