My second year of college I was reading A Prayer for Owen Meany on the couch of an apartment I was sharing with three other friends. It was the first book I read through the night, and I felt completely absorbed by the world in it. Of course it didn’t hurt that, if I had stopped, I would have had to confront the awful reality of finishing a 10 page paper on Shakespeare’s King Henry IV. But regardless, I read 300 pages that night, and it changed me. I’d been writing screenplays mostly at that point, still hoping at that time to someday move to Hollywood (shakes head), but there was something about that book that caused a switch in me, from screenplays to novels. I loved the idea of one lonely writer fitting an entire world into a book, and leave it, if they are fortunate, on the bookshelves, for people who make this wild decision to spend a week or two (or months, depending on your pace) getting into it.
Of course that first novel would later become my personal stink bomb of crappiness, but I grew from it, got a short story out of it, got published in a nice looking magazine, and moved on to #2 (My Master’s Thesis), #3 (Amazon Quarterfinalist), #4 (Stink Bomb sequel, but short story again…) and now #5, which is in the process of being partially considered by agents.
And yet I look back at that time, reading Irving’s book, then next reading Slaughterhouse Five, and I remember why I’m doing all this in the first place.
So I ask…was there a book that changed you, or a book that you have on your shelf that keeps you going? I’d love to hear them.