Who is a Writer?

Rediscovered: 8 Books about Writing

Why I am (not) a writer?   Or am I?

While reading the blog http://howtoplanwriteanddevelopabook.blogspot.com I noticed a list of My Favorite Writing Books by the author of the blog, Mary Carroll Moore.

One book on the list jumped out at me, shouting, Remember me? The title of the book is Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, subtitle: Some Instructions on Writing and Life.

Yes, I do remember you. At least I remember the title. I wondered if I still had that book.

Searching through my bookshelves, I found it. Paperback. Pages yellowed. Purchased in Berkeley, California, 1995.

Rediscovered: 23 years later in Canberra, Australia.

Finding Bird by Bird was like finding a photo of a member of my family that I had forgotten about or pushed aside. Rediscovering this slim paperback book uncovered layers of myself, buried under years of life, of travel, of work, of family.

Just before I moved back to Canberra, Australia, after living in various countries for 20 years, I gave away 12 cartons of books. I slimmed down considerably. International living does that. Books are bulky and heavy.

Looking through my bookshelves in Canberra, I found more books about writing. There must be a reason why I had not discarded these books.

Here they are, listed in no particular order, with the place and year I acquired them.

  • The Writing Book, Kate Grenville, subtitle: A Workbook for Fiction Writers, Canberra, Australia, 1991.
  • Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg, subtitle: Freeing the Writer Within,  acquired in Berkeley California, 1989.
  • If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland, subtitle: A Book about Art, Independence and Spirit, originally published in 1938, republished in paperback in 1987. Not sure where I got it.
  • Dear Writer, Carmel Bird, acquired in Canberra, Australia, 1992.
  • Letters to Alice, by Fay Weldon, subtitle: On First Reading Jane Austen, not sure when I acquired this book, published 1986.
  • Writers Inc: A Guide to Writing, Thinking & Learning, several authors, acquired in New York, 1989.
  • Several Short Sentences about Writing, by Verlyn Klinkenborg, acquired in Canberra Australia, 2015.

If I don’t think I am a writer, why for over 20 years, have I carried around to all the continents where I’ve lived so many books about writing?

What have I written during the years of wandering?

  • Features for The Daily Journal (Caracas, Venezuela) and The Chronicle of Higher Education (USA)
  • A book of poetry and sketches, Silence Spoken
  • Numerous letters to the editor of various publications, including The Canberra Times.
  • Edited three books: Bold Plum, with the Guerrillas in China’s War against Japan by Hsiao Li Lindsay; Peace and Milk: Scenes of Northern Somalia by James Lindsay and Fatima Jibrell and Solo vale si piensas rápido by Mehedy Lopez, a book of poetry in Spanish
  • A blog started in memory of my mother, wordpress.com.
  • Currently working on a novel based on events in the life of my father, Tracking the Human, nobody’s a long time

Writing has been embedded throughout my life and my work as an educator.  Yet I struggle to consider myself a “writer”.

How do you define being a writer?

Do you think someone can learn more about writing from a book?

What are your favorite books about writing?  

Are you inspired by books about writing?






Author: Pamela Collett

I was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri. I have a B.A. from Stanford University and a M.Sc. from Cornell University. I have lived and worked in San Francisco, Berkeley and Oakland, California as well as in Washington, DC. Outside the United States, I lived and worked in Venezuela, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Uganda, Somalia and Kenya. I currently live in Canberra, Australia. I edited three books: Bold Plum: with the Guerillas in China's War against Japan by Hsiao Li Lindsay; Peace and Milk: Scenes of Northern Somalia by James Lindsay and Fatima Jibrell; and Solo vale si piensas rápido by Mehedy Lopez, a book of poetry in Spanish. In 2016, I published a book of my poetry and drawings, Silence Spoken. I have taught communication skills, English as a second language, and English for journalists (in Beijing, China) at university and secondary school levels. I was a features writer for the Daily Journal, (Caracas, Venezuela), and The Chronicle of Higher Education. I am a member of the ACT (Australian Capital Territory) Writers Centre, active in a writers’ group and a contributor to poetry readings, That Poetry Thing, in Canberra, Australia.

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