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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Not the Same to Talk About Bulls Than to Be in The Bullring

I wonder how many times I've tried to describe my writing process, and the sense of almost euphoria it provokes in me even when writing the most mundane things. But talking about writing, as the Great Bastard once said, is to ruin the writing itself. I've been reading what I call "remediating" writing books/manuals simply because I want to refresh the little knowledge of the process I have. Certainly all of these books are helpful, the more basic, the better. I have been reading "The Power to Write," by Caroline Joy Adams, and I find it to be a treasure of key and important advice, but also one of those fluffy, dream-like, organic, do-it-yourself type of books that will probably give Natalie Goldberg (if I am so obscene as to say) an orgasm. I know I am being ridiculously mean in saying that, and I certainly have no reason to declare the book a 50-50 affair. I've learned a great deal, (as I have learned from Natalie Goldberg's hippie approach to all things Zen and writing). Caroline Joy Adams has a clarity that is hard to match. It was only when parts of the text were "calligraphied" covering entire pages that I felt a little cheated. Were these put in for aesthetic value, or was it in the effort to inspire. I take the latter rather than the former, but it still doesn't explain what the value of those full-page quotations is. Here's an example: "You have the power to write... so take up your pen, open your heart, your mind and your soul, and just let the words start flowing..." Inspirational, yes... to quite a high degree, but a full page worth... I just can't see it.

The sample stories in "Key #2: Start your story with a powerful opening" are excellent. Particularly, "Real Reason" because it explains so clearly the importance of what words evoke in us. I learned how to make the word squeeze the emotion out of me. Openings are covered in detail about technique and style, and the importance to "grab" the reader. It is hard to objectify one technique over the other when talking about this mainly because what is good, as Borges once said, belongs to no one. Mrs. Adams is a great teacher of writing. This books is a great mix of the harsh reality of a writer's work and the ever-romanticized aura of eccentricity that, without discrimination, follows all of those who want to write. It's a hard gig, Jack... Adams got the balance right!

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