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Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Writer's Book

I finished reading The Writer's Book and it was jam-packed with information on writing, of course. Essays by prominent men and women such as Paul Gallico, Lionel Trilling, Babette Deutsch, Phyllis McGinley, Niven Busch, Max Ehrlich, and Winston Churchill. The essays ran the gamut from Anthologies, Writing for the Movies, Television, Radio, Short Stories,  Style, the difficulty of changing your novel to theater, writing for the "Slicks", etc.

In two or three of the essays it is mentioned that you can't teach writing. It's  a natural phenomenon that an individual devotes himself to after learning the basics like grammar, style, vocabulary, etc., at least some of them learn those basics and some don't. Why writers become writers is another question that remained unsolved because of the many reasons for writing that are put forth by those practicing the profession. I got the impression that writers are all wacky, not necessarily not normal, but just a little bit odd. Who in their right mind would spend so much time staring at a typewriter or blank screen or piece of paper waiting for the urge to write something extraordinary and different than that already written? For what? Money, fame, publicity, notoriety? Good luck with that.

The last few pages of the book covered these questions and others in  a manner that made me laugh heartily, you know, guffaws, and pointed out to me the futility of such a pastime. But, what the heck, I will sit here staring at the screen for as long as it takes, sometimes not long at all, other times a little longer, just waiting for the urge to strike to write something.profound or striking or just plain dull. Oh, the joy of finally seeing words on paper! Am I slightly odd?

12 comments:

  1. We read so that we don't feel alone; I think we write for the same reason. I do think competent writing can be taught. And writing that lasts can result from having a good teacher. But great writing requires both a talent for it and a long-term commitment. What's the rule, 10,000 hours?

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    1. Ron, I've seen the 10,000-hour rule on a couple of occasions and I don't disagree with it. The more you write the better your writing becomes or is supposed to become. I think writing can be taught, too, but in the The Writer's Book it was said it couldn't be, you either have it or you don't.

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  2. I agree with Ron that the basics of writing competency can be taught. To go beyond that you definitely have to have some serious internal drive.

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    1. I think it's the internal drive that makes writers "a little odd."

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  3. I loved this post! And I agree...all writers are odd people! Some of us a good odd and others a bad odd...odd never the less...and I agree, the drive it takes to be an author is what makes the difference in making a dream come true...and just dreaming of the day we see others enjoying our work.

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    1. Hawk, it takes something to spend so much time pounding on keys and putting our imaginations to work. It isn't the normal way most people spend their time, so that makes us "odd."

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  4. The way I look at it, what else would I rather be doing? Writing doesn't cost money, it's a quiet endeavor, and I get to create something. It's a lot more productive than watching TV. Thanks for posting the question, Oscar.
    Anonymous-9
    www.anonymous-9.com

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    1. You're welcome and I agree with you, Anon-9.

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  5. "Am I slightly odd?"

    Yup, but ain't we all?

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    1. We are, V., but that makes the world go round.

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  6. Do you think it's the writing that makes us odd, or did we already have the oddness and that's what drew us to writing?

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    1. We must have been odd to begin with or why do we write.

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