Kissing the Demon – By Amrita Kumar is authentic and straightforward – a must have for new/aspiring writers. For me, reading this book was not just a learning experience but a wonderful reading experience too. As a new writer, I always look for ‘On Writing’ posts, and a complete book can be a real treat, no? So, when I got a chance to read and review ‘Kissing the Demon’ by Amrita Kumar, a quick (and big) yes was quite natural. Here’s why I think this book is a must have new writers and one of the best creative writing handbook that I have come across.
The title of this book is based on what George Orwell had once said about writing – ‘writing is a horrible exhausting experience, like a long bout of some painful illness, and that he wouldn’t have written a single book were he not driven by some demon that he could neither resist nor understand.’
The author, Amrita Kumar, is an anthologist, novelist, writing mentor and creative writing teacher. She worked as associate editor in Penguin India; editor-in-chief, Roli Books; Managing editor, Encyclopedia Britannica, Osian’s Literary Agency. She also freelanced for Rupa Publiations, Harper ollins India and Oxford University Press.
So, you see, her profile is enough to understand that she is an authentic writer for a creative writing guide.
Kissing the Demon is a practical, not preachy and helpful creative writing guide, divided in 5 important sections. And, here I am going to tell you the six reasons why this book is a must have for new (even experienced) writers.
1. Covers every aspect necessary for creative writing.
Be it the art of storytelling or mechanics of plotting; narration or dialogues; settings or characterization; you name a thing that you want to know about creative writing and editing, it is here!
Couldn’t agree more !
2. It deals with publishing hurdles and process
I have always believed that editors are not writer’s enemies. If they reject a manuscript, there must be some reason. Writers should try to find that reason and work on it.
This book tells you what editors think and why they are compelled to reject a manuscript (you shouldn’t take the rejection personally). Harsh truths of pitching and publishing process have been told in a straightforward fashion.
3. It’s an easy and practical read
I (usually) don’t read non-fiction for they tend to turn dragged and preachy. Moreover, I find it difficult to finish a non-fiction in a stretch. This book makes an easy read because of its light and straightforward writing style. The chapters are short and make sense. It keeps you hooked.
4. Carries recommendations & lovely excerpts of popular books
Here’s an excerpt of novel ‘Beloved’ used in this book
‘Something funny ’bout that gal,’ Paul D said, mostly to himself.
‘Acts sick, sounds sick, but she doesn’t look sick. Good skin, bright eyes and strong as a bull.’
‘She can hardly walk without holding on to something.’
‘That’s what I mean. Can’t walk but I have seen her pick up the rocker with one hand.’
Doesn’t it sound intriguing?
5. Has several inspiring quotations
If you are a writer, I’m sure you find writing quotes interesting, don’t you? I do. So, I enjoyed reading some really uplifting and insightful writing quotations.
To quote a few:
‘Adjectives and adverbs are the lazy writer’s technique, a skirting around something that needs to be dealt with head on.’
‘An exclamation mark is like laughing at your own joke.’
‘As soon as you shut the lid on your insecurity, you will find your words flowing with greater ease.’
It also carries some great first lines of some great books. ‘All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.’ First line of Anna Karenina intrigued me.
6. The last section – ten commandments for the writerly life – my favourite!
It gives you some serious writing advices and writing habits with motivating glimpses of writer’s life.
‘You will become way less concerned with what other people think of you when you realize how seldom they do.’ – David Foster Wallace.