Wednesday, October 13, 2010

100 Days of Fantasy: Day 64

This is an ongoing series looking at books that have influenced me as a fantasy author.

Sometimes the Magic Works
by Terry Brooks

Sometimes the Magic Works: Lessons from a Writing LifeI came across this book quite by accident a few years ago. I was walking around a Barnes & Noble, not really looking for anything particular, when the name "Terry Brooks" crossed my site. I did a double take and looked back. This book, Sometimes the Magic Works, is what I found.

Having read a half dozen or so of Brooks's novels back in the early-to-mid 1980s, I was familiar with his early work. I didn't completely dislike what I had read, but I always sort of felt, "Once I've read one Terry Brooks fantasy novel, I've read them all." To be fair, that was about 25 years ago, and the man has written much more since then, so maybe he's stretched out his plotting a little more. I don't know, because I've never gone back to the author for my fiction reading. Maybe I will some day.

But when I came across Sometimes the Magic Works, I was curious. From time to time, I like to read non-fiction books about the writing craft from actual known authors, instead of the tons of books about writing that seem to be by nobodies.

Since I was familiar with Brooks, I gave this book a try. I'm glad I did.

It reminded me a bit of the famous On Writing by Stephen King in that it's not simply a book about the craft of writing, but also gets into the personal journey of the author. Most of the personal material here is not too in depth, which is fine because I'm not interested in breaking anyone's privacy, and it mostly deals with Brooks as an older, experienced author. Still, I felt a sense of camaraderie because Brooks's thought process on writing seems quite similar to my own.

The first chapter is titled "I Am Not Here." Brooks explains how he gets so mentally caught up in his fictional worlds that he is often accused by his family of something called "fuzzy mind" in which Brooks sort of blanks out everything that's going on around him and seems withdrawn. Brooks jokes about it mostly. That could be me. In fact, that sounds a lot like me.

I won't go into further detail because I'd like people to experience this fine book on their own. Even if you aren't the biggest Brooks fan, and I suppose I'm in that boat, this book on writing is still worth your while, even if you're not a fantasy writer.

Up next: Dragonflight

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