Fascinated Friday: The Wonderful Wonderbook

Today, for Fascinated Friday, I wanted to talk about the amazing Wonderbook by Jeff VanderMeer

Wonderbook is a unique approach to a writing guide, and has, in the time I have had with it, become my favorite book on writing.  So much so that I have given it as a gift to my brother to help with his work as a screenwriter, and I have recommended it to a number of my students.  It just approaches writing and the creative process itself in such a unique and vibrant way, I can’t help but love it.

I first heard about Wonderbook in a facebook posting, and the beautiful cover image combined with the bold statement that the book offered a new and unique approach to creating imaginative fiction appealed to me.  As I looked into the book, I kept encountering great reviews.  I decided I needed to get a copy and see what it was all about.

In the last three years, I have switched over almost exclusively to electronic books, so I was kind of bummed that there was no ebook for Wonderbook.  Honestly though, now I am glad all they had available was the hard copy.  There is something just…right about being able to hold this thing in your hands, flip through the glossy pages, and marvel at the art.  It is a really beautiful book.

The overall structure of the book, the lessons, tips, and suggestions it offers, all are presented logically but without an overtly linear feeling to things.  This really spoke to me as I read it.  The author has taken effort to make the book accessible as a reference, but it is his suggestion that you read through the book fully, and I would agree.  This leads to what was probably my biggest surprise and also, my highest praise for the book.

It is a blast to read.

It makes you want to try things with your own writing.  It fires up the imagination.  It lives up to the hype.

And, it also offers some great advice, mixed in with the beauty and splendor.  One of the pieces that I took to heart involved the value in abandoning some of your most precious fetishes for writing.

RELINQUISH ALL FETISHES

Here’s an incomplete list of things I’ve given up over the years so I wouldn’t have excuses not to write:

* Special notebooks.

* Favorite pens.

* Particular times of day (or night).

* Comfortable desks and chairs.

* A dedicated office space.

* Specific mental exercises.

* Nostalgic typewriters.

* Impressive laptops.

These days, I don’t care where I am when I write, who I’m with, or if it’s midnight or noon. I don’t care if I scribble on a piece of toilet paper or in some fancy goat-skin-lined tome. If I don’t have a pen, I’ll as easily type a phrase or scene fragment into my phone and send it to my email account as try to write a note on paper.

I’m for whatever creates the least distance between thought and capturing the thought, that provides the least friction between “eureka!” and writing down “eureka!” before it becomes “What the heck was that brilliant phrase I was just thinking of a second ago and now have forgotten?”

My younger self didn’t understand this truth. My younger self kept putting obstacles between me and the act of writing. Every minute spent fetishizing the process instead of simplifying it cost me moments of creativity.

-Jeff VanderMeer

This one hit especially close to home for me, as I absolutely had a tendency to rely on certain rituals or talismans before I was “ready to write.”

Wonderbook is an incredible work, and one that I recommend not only for people interested in writing , but for anyone who is remotely interested in the creative arts.  Or just really, really cool books.

Until next time, keep finding stuff you love.  I will.

-Mark

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