I immediately did one of the things Benson says he, as a writer does. I am not in the middle of a writing project, but I wrote something, a fictional dialogue, because of what I read in his routine. I tried to copy his approach. I don’t know if I will become a writer, but I plan on continuing this practice at least for the next month or so. I am going to do what he says he does, and see what comes of it.
I can’t think of a better endorsement that I could give than that for Dancing on the Head of a Pen, Robert Benson’s short book about what he does as a writer. He takes the reader through his process. He does so succinctly and clearly. By the time he’s finished, I think, “Well, I can do that.” I don’t know if I can write books. But I can do the things he says he has done. And when he has done those things, at the end of the line, a completed book comes out.
As I said, this is a very short account. He says nothing about how to get a publisher to read the work he’s written. He says not one word about how to market the book. He talks about editors, but he never mentions how someone starting out can get an editor. Because I know a couple of authors who have succeeded in writing, getting published, and actually getting a few people to buy their books, I know Benson has left out a lot.
However, I don’t think his goal is necessarily a “how-to” in writing novels. His goal is “how-he” or “how-I.” He’s saying to the reader, “this is how I do it.” So, I don’t think he can be faulted too much for what he leaves out though I do think he leaves a lot out. Dancing on the Head of a Pen is a snippet of his work as an author, a glimpse. And because he is a competent writer, it is well written.
For the prospective author, other works will have to be consulted if a finished product is to come. Benson will put belief in the one who wants to write. Read Dancing on the Head of a Pen, and you will think, “I can manage that much.” And if you or I manage that much, we just might find we can do the things he leaves unsaid that are needed to complete the work.
Disclaimer - I received this book for free from WaterBrookMultnomah Publishing Group for this review.