• 10Jun
    Categories: Art, Habit Comments: 0

    Uh-huh. A challenge, based on an article about creative “cross-training.” I didn’t have to choose this, of course, and still. must. paint. But I do want to write, and the author suggested choosing something you have an interest in. So, here we go…

    Topic: I thought of things to write about last night, I swear. They’ll come back to me. Right now, I think the point is just to write. I’m trying to remember a couple books I’ve looked at in the past (this memory is terrible). When you search for “writing book” on Amazon, sadly the first book is “sponsored.” Amazon has taken a page from google. I could write 1000 words on that alone.

    The second book is also sponsored, but I like it: Cursive Handwriting Workbook: Cursive Handwriting Book for Kids (Grades 3 – 5) – Workbook to Practice. One of my hot spots. Schools are no longer teaching kids how to write in cursive. This news came out right after my sister, an elementary school teacher in Louisiana, had taken a teachers’ trip to New Orleans to learn a new way of teaching cursive. Brilliant.

    I am, however, happy to see that parents have chosen to take on the teaching task themselves, and other venues are promoting the reasons to teach cursive to kids. There’s even a Campaign for Cursive with an extensive web site.

    Back to Amazon. The next three books are Amazon “Best Sellers”: Another workbook on cursive writing; a workbook on printing, for younger kids; and The Writing Strategies Book: Your Everything Guide to Developing Skilled Writers. Well, I’m glad to see they’re covering the bases and reaching out to young people. That’s the time to learn these skills. I have a friend who, while attending Lehigh University, said that her professors did not mark her papers for spelling or grammar! Not even comments. I was appalled. College is young people’s last opportunity to be taught to write well. And they will need it in the real world. But, the quality of communication is changing drastically. Hey! Another writing topic! But I digress, yet again…

    The next book on the Amazon search results is On Writing: A Memoir Of The Craft by Stephen King. It has 4½ stars, from 3,155 customer reviews. One review states, “He awakens in one an urgency about writing, and how this activity can just fill one’s life with meaning.” I’d like to say that makes me want to read it. Unfortunately, I have become jaded about Mr. King. Years ago, I loved his books, especially one of short stories, which I don’t usually like. They were so gripping with simple, effective premises. Unfortunately, I can’t share what the book is (that darn memory again), because when I searched Mr. King’s books on Amazon, on about page four of the list (there are four “sponsored” listings per page), it started including other authors. That’s where they lose me. I became jaded with Mr. King because it seems to me as if he is one of those celebrity writers just pumping out books. Either for money, or to meet his contractual obligations (although it does seem like he should be able to write whatever and whenever he wants, at this point).

    Book five on the search results list is a blank journal. No, thank you, I already have enough of those. I love journals. Oh, the possibilities. I could collect them. But writing on that first blank page is so intimidating. This one says it’s “for Boys and Girls,” so I’m safe passing it up. I don’t think I fit the “Girl” category any more.

    The list then disperses into the wide variety of writing books. Grammar (the only one you’ll ever need), writing nonfiction, resumes, fiction, general writing tools and Start Writing Your Book Today! As usual in this world of too much information, they all start to meld into a pile of HOW TO WRITE.

    But that list was based on Relevance. Let’s see what happens when I order the results by Avg. Customer Review.

    Number one is The True Story of Fake News: How Mainstream Media Manipulates Millions. A big topic right now. I don’t know if this is the penultimate source for information on fake news. According to Amazon, the author’s “YouTube channel has over 1 million subscribers and more than 400 million views, and his viral videos have been mentioned on the Fox News Channel, CNN, the Drudge Report, TMZ, the New York Daily News, the Washington Times, and other media outlets around the world.” (emphasis mine) I’m not sure if having a popular youtube channel makes you an expert. But I could be wrong. Youtube has become a venue for all kinds of people to get their message out and has made many very successful. But is does get five stars, averaged from 2,496 customer reviews!

    I have no idea what the next group of books have to do with writing. Maybe they came up because I included the word “books” in my search. There’s a kids’ book, book three of what looks like a teen drama series, a couple Christian-based books, another blank journal…I could go on. I’m not sure ordering by customer rating works for me. I rarely read best-sellers, either.

    Finally, I remember the title of one book I’ve read—Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. Ms. Lamott is an excellent writer. This title is based on her father’s advice given to her brother when he was having trouble writing a report about birds as a child. He said to just write it “bird by bird,” excellent advice. Starting to write is so hard (as are many other things) because we look at the blank page and the topic as a whole. Breaking it down is the only way to start.

    I own this book. And others on writing. Like the blank journals, I have, in the past, read about writing without committing to do it. I’m sensing a trend.

    One excellent tip I read long ago was to write first thing in the morning. One to three pages, just dumping whatever is in your head. That tip seems to be all over the internet now, but I’m pretty sure it originated from a book on drawing: Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. Excellent book. The idea is to get all the garbage out of your head to clear the way for real writing. There are always days when you will just write garbage (this could be one of mine, you judge), but, the more you write, the more chance you have of writing something decent. Of course, there’s more to it than that. But you have to start to for it to be even possible.

    This is my start. This time around.

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