If you choose Baxter as your Sifu, then you can expect to be whipped into shape, focused on the five senses, reminded that you have Work (yes, it deserves a capital W), and you are disallowed the luxury of slacking off.
Perhaps more so than the other authors in Writer Chaps Season One, Baxter keeps a firm grip on the balls-and-all nature of real life. He’s the one pointing out that most authors have a day job, implying that this job is not writing.
His no-BS style is refreshing; though be aware that if you’re not a fan of the most flexible word in the English language, which begins with an F and has just four letters, my advice is that you gird yourself well before you begin.
Despite these sentiments, I have to point out that Season One is badly let down by Baxter’s volume. It has nothing to do with the writing it contains but in the production values.
The page design feels crammed due to small margins, unlike Writer Chaps 01 – 03. It feels as if the publication picked a bunch of blogs out of Baxter’s website and then threw them between a set of covers without intervention.
Throughout the book, Baxter refers to ‘this blog’ or ‘this post’, and there is very little attempt to give his material the cohesion required by a chapbook of this nature. While I could blame the author for this, it is properly an editorial oversight (or absence, perhaps) that is to blame.
It’s unfortunate, because the net result is a volume that feels rushed, as if someone yelled, ‘C’mon boys, deadline is breakfast tomorrow, go go go’. It’s so bad that it would be enough to make a reader who started with this volume gunshy of the entire season.
Despite this unfortunate blight, The Martial Art of Writing serves to remind writers of how best to create real experiences in fiction.
It could be summarised as:
Don’t just show me; make me taste it.
The Martial Art of Writing is published by Brain Jar Press. For more information, visit: www.brainjarpress.com for details.
Image: The Martial Art of Writing – courtesy of Brain Jar Press
Review: Leticia Mooney