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Sometimes the Magic Works: Lessons from a Writing Life by Terry Brooks

Sometimes the Magic Works: Lessons from a Writing Life by Terry Brooks
Book Name: Sometimes the Magic Works: Lessons from a Writing Life
Author: Terry Brooks
Publisher(s): Del Rey
Formatt: Hardback / Paperback / eBook
Genre(s): Memoir / Writing Advice
Release Date: March 4, 2003

And now for something, completely different: Memoirs.

Memoirs are windows into the souls of those who write them: glimpses of the mind and anecdotal lessons that can either be funny, sad, inspiring or enlightening. As I’ve said in my first review, Terry Brooks holds a sentimental place in the lump of obsidian that passes for my heart. It was his fictions that lured me into the world of fantasy and inspired me to write my first serious fantasy world. It was his memoirs that solidified my desire to try to become a professional writer.

Sometimes the Magic Works is a short, poignant piece where Terry Brooks discusses the imaginative adventures of his childhood, his early and lucky success as a writer, the rocky path that is the career of writing, and throughout the piece, he offers tips and anecdotes. If you’ve been paying any attention to Amy’s Writer Wednesday articles, she offers advice that is very similar and just as entertaining.

If there is anything that I love about this memoir, it is how frank Terry Brooks is. He admits – right in the title of the first chapter – that he is not all there. But before we consider making a fund to have the men in white visit him for a trip to the Funny Farm, he argues that all writers live in two worlds: the reality around us and the one in our head. Further, he says that the best writers can live in both simultaneously and know one from the other. Imagination and organization serve as the focus for the first part of the book, with desire and drive being the second part. Finally, amongst the anecdotes about his grandson Hunter, the decision to become a full-time writer and forsake his legal career, and some frank discussions, Mr. Brooks rounds out with tips on how to make one’s writing stronger and to let creativity flow.

One of the main things that I came away with after reading this, is that a writing career – like any other career – is wrought with gambles and risk-taking. You never know where your path will take you, and sometimes all it takes is just a bit of luck and careful timing on the part of yourself and the Fates. You can go to one book signing and they could be lining out the door to meet you, or you might not sign a single copy. You may want to expand into a new series or genre, but your fans may feel betrayed or let down. What matters is the craft, and that you take your chances.

Whether you’re a professional writer, or do it in the wild, frantic hours between jobs and states of unconsciousness, or whether you’ve the honor of having several titles under your belt, or are still struggling to get the first one underway, Sometimes the Magic Works is a source of inspiration and a reminder that believing in magic is half the battle, but it’s putting that magic to work that wins the war.


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