The fears in being self-taught

I have thought, many times, about entering a new sidebar Page (see right) with the list of all Creative Writing books I’ve read so far, but the list keeps getting bigger.

I would score them from 1 to 5 stars because I believe it’s important to keep track of both the butterflies and the frogs. They all taught me something, even if just how to not-write-a-book on creative writing someday (when I finally have a readership and am actually published). I would also add a small, honest description to the post, with my thoughts on each book.


Self-taught Hands, art by Chris James


The good thing (and the bad thing) is I’ve always written long notes when studying those books. And, as I’ve read so many, it will take some time to sum it all up and then shrink it all down to a single paragraph.

I’m so weird…

For me it’s the same as taking a course, without the one-on-one on my writing. Yes, it’s not the same. But because I’m a writer, I could easily come up with one more imaginary friend that is also a writing tutor. (He would drive a gun to the head of my imaginary personal trainer, who keeps shouting I should stop writing, get my butt off the chair and exercise.)

Writing down the insights that made more sense to me, makes it easier to go through it all, if needed. I don’t have to read the whole book again, just the notes.

Maybe for you this would seem like a chore. I often think I missed obsessive-compulsive disorder by a tiny bit…

Anyway, doing a post like that may be more useful to me than to anyone else. I confess, being a foreigner, any list of books I’ve read in english falls on the ‘proud-of’ category.

Am I shallow?

Well… apart from Flash tutorials (Adobe), I didn’t read in english before 2008 and, as many wannabes, I don’t come from a literary background, circle of friends or personal degree. My CV still presents me as a Web and Graphic Designer, and I worked as one in my previous job. So I guess I had to turn myself into an english writer, without knowing anything about any of the two.

That’s still scary… I often think people won’t take me seriously in this business…

What? A portuguese web designer writing a book in OUR language??? ah ah ah! What a pretentious little bug.

What’s the weight of being completely self-taught on both a language and a whole knew field of expertise?

Having a summarized track of all C. W. books I’ve studied so far, helps keep the spirits up. Tell a little lie, like: of course they will take you seriously! You’ve read all those books and your manuscript shows you know what you’re doing.

I hope I’m not the frog.

Take a look at Chris James’s work, here:


4 thoughts on “The fears in being self-taught

  1. I think you will do a fantastic job. I’ve said before, your English is great. You WON’T be a frog!

    ( is a great way to keep track of what you have read and rate it, and write reviews-if you are so inclined. you can also ‘add friends’ and keep track of what others are saying about whatever books they have read)

    • I like to have all my writings in the same place. This blog is like my online notebook on everything that relates to reading or writing.

      I don’t use goodreads, facebook, twitter or any other social ‘thingy’ unless I absolutely have to one day. (I know it’s good for marketing). Even then, all entries will only be copies of things written here.

  2. “I often think I missed obsessive-compulsive disorder by a tiny bit…”
    That made me laugh out loud while sitting here on my own!
    Go for it with the list and their respective stars, it’ll look good if a prospective agent/publisher checks your Blog out ;-)

    • Agreed. I still have time to slowly improve this blog here and there, before I finish my manuscript and kick it out of the house to travel the World and bring me home an agent.

      Still a lot of work to do, though. Even when it’s all finished and polished, I have to remember to have an american english version and an UK english one. You guys are so complicated… grrrr.

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