Book Review, Books!, Inspiration, Signal Boost, Weekend Writer, Writing

Weekend Writer: Light the Dark – Writers on Creativity, Inspiration, and the Artistic Process – Part Two

Hey all, Dani here.

I am already trying to make myself so many plans for this blog on the off chance that my workplace shuts down. Right now it seems like factory life is continuing with the only change being constant reminders to wash your hands and such. But I am thinking up so many reading and blogging plans for my “downtime” if it comes to it.

Oh, speaking of, Brandon Sanderson is posting his lecture series from BYU up on his YouTube, and he talks about writing Fantasy and Science Fiction, Plotting, Worldbuilding, etc. I’m definitely thinking that I want to do a Weekend Writer post for each lecture. It will be a little time consuming though, as each lecture is just over an hour in length. I think it will totally be worth it though.

It would be really cool for all of us who want to write creatively (whether that is poetry, stories, novellas, novels, screenplays, RPGs, video games, whatever) to be able to help uplift and inspire each other, and keep ourselves motivated to strive for our dreams, so I decided to start this blog series here. This series will be a lot of me working through books on writing and creativity, maybe doing and sharing some writing exercises, and possibly doing some writing based discussion posts. It’s going to be an adventure for sure, and I hope it helps you as much as it is helping me.

Light the Dark: Writers on Creativity, Inspiration, and the Artistic Process

Book Details

Format: paperback

Pages: 334

Publisher: Penguin Books

Publication Date: September 26, 2017

ISBN: 0143130846 (ISBN13: 9780143130840)


A stunning guide to finding creative inspiration and how it can illuminate your life, your work, and your art—from Stephen King, Junot Díaz, Elizabeth Gilbert, Amy Tan, Khaled Hosseini, Roxane Gay, Neil Gaiman, and many more acclaimed writers

What inspires you? That’s the simple, but profound question posed to forty-six renowned authors in LIGHT THE DARK. Each writer begins with a favorite passage from a novel, a song, a poem—something that gets them started and keeps them going with the creative work they love. From there, incredible lessons and stories of life-changing encounters with art emerge, like how sneaking books into his job as a night security guard helped Khaled Hosseini learn that nothing he creates will ever be truly finished. Or how a college reading assignment taught Junot Díaz that great art can be a healing conversation, and an unexpected poet led Elizabeth Gilbert to embrace an unyielding optimism, even in the face of darkness. LIGHT THE DARK collects the best of The Atlantic‘s much-acclaimed “By Heart” series edited by Joe Fassler and adds brand new pieces, each one paired with a striking illustration. Here is a guide to creative living and writing in the vein of Daily Rituals, Bird by Bird, and Big Magic for anyone who wants to learn how great writers find inspiration—and how to find some of your own.

CONTRIBUTING AUTHORS: Elizabeth Gilbert, Junot Díaz, Marilynne Robinson, Jonathan Lethem, Michael Chabon, Aimee Bender, Mary Gaitskill, Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Roxane Gay, Angela Flournoy, Jonathan Franzen, Yiyun Li, Leslie Jamison, Claire Messud, Edwidge Danticat, David Mitchell, Khaled Hosseini, Ayana Mathis, Kathryn Harrison, Azar Nafisi, Hanya Yanagihara, Jane Smiley, Nell Zink, Emma Donoghue, Jeff Tweedy, Eileen Myles, Maggie Shipstead, Sherman Alexie, Andre Dubus III, Billy Collins, Lev Grossman, Karl Ove Knausgaard, Charles Simic, Jim Shepard, T.C. Boyle, Tom Perrotta, Viet Than Nguyen, William Gibson, Mark Haddon, Ethan Canin, Jessie Ball, Jim Crace, and Walter Mosley.

“As [these authors] reveal what inspires them, they, in turn, inspire the reader, all while celebrating the beauty and purpose of art.” –Booklist

My Thoughts

Okay, so my approach with this month’s book was to count up how many essays there were and then try to divide it up as evenly as possible over the four Weekend Writer posts for March. For today’s post I think I looked at the next twelve essays of the book, so if you want to look at the first eleven, you’ll have to check out that post.

The essays I read this week were: “To Infinity and Beyond” by Michael Chabon, “How I Awoke” by Walter Mosley, “Stealing Plums and Counting Stones” by Jim Crace, “All Immigrants are Artists” by Edwidge Danticat, “Into the Deep Heart’s Core” by Billy Collins, “Please Stop Thinking” by Kathryn Harrison, “Neglect Everything Else” by David Mitchell, “Dreaming in Drag” by Roxane Gay, “Ordinary People” by Tom Perrotta, “Against Unreality” by Ayana Mathis, “No One Ever Changes” by Jim Shepard, and “Lose Yourself” by Karl Ove Knausgaard.

Again with this section of the book, there were many authors who I haven’t exactly heard of and I think I’ve only read works by one or two of these authors, so honestly I look at this book not just for inspiration, but also to get an idea for the writing styles of these authors. Who knows? Maybe I can find some new books or stories to read…not that I need any more to add to my TBR, but that’s okay.

I love that these essays from authors give you little tips about having a creative life, how they talk about making your writing time important to you, or to stop over-thinking when you should just be feeling the writing, or how ordinary people in books are just as important as extraordinary people, or how to find your own creative awakening. There are so many important nuggets of wisdom to be gleaned from this book, and I’m definitely really enjoying reading it.

I’m only halfway through this book, and I feel like I could keep talking about it in vague and abstract terms while also touting how great it has been so far in sort of rewiring my brain to focus more on being creative.

I still really like the set-up for this book, a slightly different format of the author/editor’s online series from several years ago. Talk to a writer and have them choose a favorite passage from literature, the lines that have spoken to them and hit them the hardest over their lifetime of reading. What ends up coming out of these little essays is inspiration and creativity and a glimpse into the writing life. These essays speak to the creative place within all of us, or at least that’s how I like to think of them.

It’s cool to read the line or lines that have affected them, and to hear the reasoning behind it. Reading these essays, I honestly can’t help but be inspired by them. It makes me think to all the books I’ve read in my life, and the books that have been studied in my numerous literature courses over the years. What line or passage would I say has affected me the most? It is an interesting question, but also a bit of a difficult one. I think maybe different lines have been important in different stages of my life. A line that transformed my childhood might seem so small in adulthood, or there might be a line from the past few years that would mean very little to my younger self. Perhaps this is something I need to think on for myself, maybe for a future post.

It makes me very curious. Are there any lines or passages that have hit you the hardest over your years of being a reader? I would love to know, honestly.

Part One / Part Three / Part Four

Links to Other Weekend Writer Posts

Introduction — Wonderbook by Jeff Vandermeer — Embrace Your Weird by Felicia Day — The Art of War for Writers by James Scott Bell — No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty — The War of Art by Steven Pressfield — On Being Stuck by Laraine Harris — The Kobold Guide to Worldbuilding edited by Janna Silverstein — Light the Dark edited by Joe Fossler

Where to Get a Copy

If you found this writing advice helpful, you can pick up your own copy of this book from AmazonBarnes & NobleBooks-a-millionBook Depository, or your local independent bookstore through IndieBound.

You can also check with your local library.

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