A Thousand Words A Day

A writing journal _____________________________ PROFESSORBLOG@HOTMAIL.COM

writing: _ Christian Writers _ _ NaNo _

reading: _LibraryThing_ _ BookCrossing _ _ My local library _ _ Another nearby library _

blogs: _ Lorie Rees_ _Itinerant Iconoclast_ _ Rita's Ravings _
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Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States

Reader, writer, podcast listener, and TV watcher. And real nice guy.

Monday, July 14, 2003

Found in the library a book by Janet Burroway called "Writing Fiction." I have the 4th edition. This is based on a recommendation from my writing group, a member thereof is using it as a text in a class she is taking. I like some of the advice just in the first few chapters. One of the nice aspects is the motto "Whatever Works." Whenever the author describes a technique or tip that she recommends, she always couches it in the fact that whatever works for someone is an effective tip. THat is the only standrard, and whatever does not work for you is not a good tip FOR YOU, but may be for someone else. For a textbook, this is a pretty redical paradigm.

She is a big fan of journal keeping, shich is the point of this blog, right? She also talks about freewriting, which is a little bit out of comfort zone, but I guess I do see the validity

Here are a few choice selections from the first chapter or two.There are a number of basic plot devices, or plots, or whatever you want to call it, maybe conflict is the right word. they include the DILEMMA, the INCONGRUITY, and CONNECTION, the MEMORY, the TRANSPLANT, and the REVENGE. This is the kind of knowledge that is out of my frame of reference, coming at writing not from an education (M. F. A. for example) program, but as a professional of another type with an educational background of another type. With the exception of 2 journalism classes in tenth and eleventh grade, I have actually had no formal writing training . . . and I don't think that a pair of high school years twenty years ago count as formal training . . .

The book includes essays from other authors. This is from Bonnie Friedman: "Why must I have such obstacles to writing? I crave to be submerged, to be “into” my novel, to be in that state when words come fast, and the characters walk and talk the way your characters in your dreams do – without your conscience desire.” She goes on to write an amazing essay about distraction, which is certainly something we all fall victim to in our own way. But I could identify with the guts of this piece and what she was writing about. I have been there, I know what she speaks of, and think I can work with that knowledge.

From an included essay by Annie Dillard: “When you write, you play out a line of words. The line of words is a miner’s pick, a wood-carver’s gouge, a surgeon’s probe. You wield it, and it digs a path you follow. Soon you find yourself deep in new territory. Is it a dead end, or have you located the real subject? You will know tomorrow, or this time next year.” Wow, that was pretty powerful stuff. She talks of the courage to write, to let yourself fail. Because that is what writing is, especially novel writing, to be honest. It is the heart of the struggle, of the courage, to be able to work for a year or two or three or eight or fifteen to produce something that may or may not be usable . . . and you won’t know until the END . . .until you have reached that point when it is all done and you learn only then if what you have done is worthy or not. That is the crux of the mosh, the guts of the thing, and why it takes courage to write.

I liked the book so far and am looking forward to working my through more of it and then also reporting to you in this very blog how my reading is going and what my thoughts are on the work. So far, so good. For a textbook, it is not too bad a book. Looks like a good recommendation.


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