Thursday, December 15, 2005

Progress Report

Work has certainly kept me away from my blogging responsibilities lately. That's a good and bad thing. Good because I am happily chugging away and my day flies by, bad because I miss my daily labor of love. Maybe someday I can do this for a living and have the best of both worlds.

Keep practicing.

Janey gave me a writing technique book to read called Techniques of the Selling Writer. At first I thought, geez, what a dry, formal, pedantic read--but I quickly got over it. It was written nearly forty years ago, and writers have since then lightened up. But that was only the first chapter. In chapter two, the pace quickened and the advice was golden. I especially liked the section on the use of the word "had." The book advises to avoid this evil word at all costs, because it slows the pace if only for a jarring instant, taking the reader out of the now. I put the book down and reviewed my short story and counted around ten offenses--and I smiled. I learned something.

I'm also reading All Over but the Shoutin' by Rick Bragg. I haven't gotten very far, because my time is limited. What was that old saying? If you chase two rabbits you catch none? I can't help myself. Bragg is amazing. His recollection of the tiniest detail is humbling. It's no wonder he was a writer for the New York Times. The book is a memoir, homage to his mother who raised him in the harshest of impoverished conditions. I don't know much more about the book, but my initial reaction is that Rick Bragg has an unpretentious, easy-to-read style that invites the reader to read on. He comes from a humble background, and has risen to the top despite all roadblocks that would stymie the average person.

15 comments:

Shesawriter said...

I keep meaning to finish this book. I started reading it months ago, put it down then ... well ... you get the drift. I DID finally finish the Maass book. I'll prolly get to Swain's book sometime next week. And I agree with you. It is truly a great book.

Tanya

Joely Sue Burkhart said...

I think I've read chapter 3 four times now, although I haven't finished the book yet. Every time I read it, I figure out something new!

none said...

Swain is THE BIBLE! Laughing. Everyone read! I am going to read.

Rick Bragg wrote in spite of. I love that.

The Zombieslayer said...

Maybe someday I can do this for a living and have the best of both worlds.

Me too. I'd love to write for a living and have more time to blog. I really do miss having the time to go to everyone's blogs. I keep falling behind and hate having to rush responses.

As for "had," I use "had" all the time. Shoot, that's good advice and I think I'll work on it.

Ultra Toast Mosha God said...

i'll try and check these out.

Eve said...

I've seen the Swain book - but I don't thing I've seen the Bragg one. I'll give a look see after the holidays.

Scott said...

Tanya - I must be on the right track if you are reading the same books!

Joely - It's funny that you mention chapter three. That's where I am too, and I get the feeling that every third point or so is lost on me. So I too will be reading it and getting more each time. I like his approach, which uses psychology instead of gadgetry to hook the reader.

Janie - Now I know why you think so Janie. Rick Bragg--yeah.

Toast - You won't regret it!

Scott said...

Eve - I think you would enjoy the Swain book for sure.

magnetbabe said...

The Bragg book sounds good. I might have to think about picking it up. I've been more into memoirs lately, I'm starting to subscribe to the belief that truth is more interesting than fiction.

Sadie Lou said...

Zombie--
I can relate to the rushed blogging syndrome. I have to squeeze in time during Andy's infrequent napping schedule and hosework.
meh.

Trevor Record said...

Hmm, maybe I should check out that book. "had" can be a pretty bad word. However, I almost always use past-tense....

Chloe said...

Another must-read for writers is Ken Smith's Junk English. It follows in the footsteps of The Elements of Style but is more upbeat, with great examples.

jenbeauty said...

Maybe I should try my hand. Thanks for the review Scott.

Dixie Belle said...

Glad you are getting to read Bragg. I love his imagery, plus I related really well to him because we grew up in the same area, same time except I wasn't as poor as he was. But so much of what he says about the South, the people, lifestyles like "dinner on the ground" is so true. Plus, he is just as funny and entertaining in person as he is in books.

mr. schprock said...

I read a book about writing once and I only remember two things from it: try more to show the reader, don't just tell; and there is nothing "very" about the word "very." (That last rule I ignore all the time, but I understand it.)