Wednesday, August 28, 2013

reading about writing

First, and most importantly, thanks to Chris Cameron for pointing out that Peter Piper picked a PECK of pickled peppers, not a pint. Once, children, a "peck" was a meaningful measurement. In England, they still use stones for weight; one stone = 14 pounds. Crazy folk.

Spent hours today reading on the computer - which I spend so much time doing, it's a miracle I ever read on paper any more, but I do that too. "Creative Non-fiction" is a mag that comes out of the U.S. both on-line and on paper, founded and edited by Lee Gutkind who has been called the father of creative non-fiction, or at least the founder of the name.

Read a quote from writer Tim Bascomb that hit me where it hurts, relating it to my 74,000 word book, which I think is too long but don't know how to cut:

While a fiction writer may need to invent from scratch, adding and adding, the essayist usually needs to do the opposite, deleting and deleting. As a result, nonfiction creativity is best demonstrated by what has been left out. The essay is a figure locked in a too-large-lump of personal experience, and the good essayist chisels away all unnecessary material.
One helpful way to understand this principle of deletion is to think of the essayist looking through a viewfinder to limit the reader’s focus. The act of framing a selected portion of raw experience from the chronological mess we call “life” fundamentally limits the reader’s attention to a manageable time and place, excluding all events that are not integrally related. What appears in the written “picture,” like any good painting, has wholeness because the essayist was disciplined enough to remove everything else.
Aaagh! Not disciplined enough to cut what's not integrally related!
And here's a quote from another writer about the importance of editors. I'll post soon to tell you about my classes, and this is a good description not just of an editor, but of a writing teacher.
When you’re writing long stories, involved stories—stories that feel like a real investment—your editor has to wear so many hats to help get you through. My editors are filters, reporting coaches, therapists, cheerleaders, sounding boards, hecklers, and apparitions in my sleep. They’re also plain old editors. And I need editing. I want to be edited. I think if you aspire in your writing, if you’re striving for something, then you almost always will go too far and need someone to bring you back.
So that's it, it's not that I'm undisciplined, it's that I am striving for something and have gone too far. I like that explanation better. 


  1. Trying to figure out why people can't post a reply. Does it work for me?

  2. Yes. But not for anyone else. Too strange. ARE THERE ANY BLOGGER EXPERTS OUT THERE who can help?

  3. Yes I was having trouble too but I seem to see the whole image today..

  4. And here's another one. Go figure...