There are shelves filled with books on writing. But when it comes to the inspiration to GOYA, three small paperbacks stand out for me on the basis of their entertainment factor and message.
What’s “GOYA” by the way? It was the motto of a famous paratroop battalion, the US 551st, in World War 2. Simply put it stands for, “get of your ass.” And in writing, it’s the most important maxim of all—because as those who know will tell you:
If you’re not writing, then you’re not a writer.
Writers write every day. So here’s a quick outline, originally included in a feature article I wrote about gift ideas for the writer in you and in your lives.
“If You Want to Write” by Brenda Ueland
Originally published in 1938, this book has finally received a printing resurrection in recent years. At one stage, it was hard to find. I landed mine in the used book section of Brookline Booksmith, on a visit to Boston. This book is not so much focused on the minutiae of technique as it is getting people convinced they can write. Though practicalities are definitely touched on. It offers a beautiful look inside the mind of a writing master who dedicated her life to filling the world with the words of others. A book that will empower.
“Naked Drunk and Writing” by Adair Lara
This is a fine exploration of the art of memoir by a writer whose introduction to the craft came while throwing her hat into the ring working behind the scenes at a San Francisco news magazine. This book looks heavily at technique through personal example—and in a light-hearted way, stresses the GOYA message loud and clear.
“On Writing” by Stephen King
Yes, written by that horror-genre phenomenon, Stephen King. If you ask me this is his best book. Part biography, part school King aims to convince readers that the capacity for good writing lives alongside the right attitude: great writing though, King believes, requires a little pat from the divine. In my mind, this book is worth the purchase alone for the self-journey he relates. Heavily geared towards the writing of novels, it does have application for writing in general. Yes, even memos. Sure, readers will take King’s advice by their own measure of utility and though I’ve only read one of his actual novels from whoa to go—and it had no ending (what’s with that, Mr. King?)—I’m very glad this book came my way one day while browsing Amazon. Definitely buy this one and bring your ironclad sensibilities along when you do. It doesn’t hold back.
There’s nothing like uncovering a gem in technique, content, or story through reading. That’s why writers aren’t writers unless we’re reading too.