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Julie Duffy mentions some of her favourite books...

READERSVOICE.COM: What are some of your favorite novels of all time, or books of short stories, or how-to write books, biographies or any other books you could recommend?

JULIE DUFFY: I was practically weaned on The HitchHikers Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams. It really appeals to my sense of ‘silly’. I later discovered all the writers who probably influenced him: T. E. White, P. G. Wodehouse, that whole strain of British comedic writing. Nothing makes me happier than a witty story.
How-to books that I have found invaluable include Brenda Ueland’s If You Want To Write: A Book About Art, Independence And Spirit, which I was reading when I came up with the idea of StoryADay May. I don’t remember how I stumbled across this immensely powerful book, but its message hit me like a ton of bricks: if you want to write, you should be writing, because otherwise you will die inside. The book was written in 1938 and was a call to arms for the artist in every one of us. So many books about writing and art now end with a section about how to go professional, but this one is simply a plea to pursue some kind of artistic endeavor every day FOR YOUR OWN SAKE, and it blew the roof off the top of my head. It was a reminder of why I wrote when I was a kid, and why I stopped when I was in high school and college.
Ueland told me in no uncertain terms that I could, no SHOULD write, because otherwise I was not being true to myself, and what good would I then be to my family and friends? There is a gentle proto-feminist strain in the book that was ridiculously refreshing over 70 years after it was written.
I’d pair a reading of that with Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way and then come along to StoryADay this May, if you want to rediscover joy in your writing ;)

RV: How can people sign up for the StoryaDay (in May)?

JD: There is a sign-up box to get onto the mailing list for StoryADay. [See storyaday.org/signup/.]
That’s where I’ll post information about the challenge and the year-round activities.
Towards the end of April I open up a special area of the site where you can sign up for this year’s challenge. There are graphics to grab and forums to hang out in, and suchlike. The people on the mailing list are the first to know when that opens each year.

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– copyright Simon Sandall