New bookshelf by my desk: journal, books as reminders, books for the future, and a tortoise

If I were going to teach a MFA class, it would be “How to keep being a writer once you’re no longer in grad school and no one is keeping tabs on your writing anymore.”

Seriously, why is there not a class like this? It should be mandatory in the last semester of all MFA programs. The send-off should be “Now we’ve taught you what we can, we’ve given you deadlines and feedback, and we’re sending you off to ‘the real world’ armed with this information.”

Some of these materials I came to know many years ago. Others I’ve discovered over the last several years in new types of writing communities focused on daily practice, persistence, spirit, devotion, joy, coaching, and tiny steps.

Here’s what would be on my reading list:

The War of Art and Turning Pro, by Steven Pressfield
Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert
Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott
The Story Grid, by Shawn Coyne
Blog posts and Design Your Writing Life, by Jenna Avery

This is an incomplete list. There are more I already know about that have helped me with craft and with practice, and more I know I will find and come to love. Including a few in the towering stack of books by my bed that I haven’t got to reading yet.

What’s on your essential list?


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