By Chris Stewart I'm always running from trends, so while I initially enjoyed Justin's posts on Twitter (I lurked a bit once I heard about it - I don't tweet and personally hope the practice dies a quick death soon, once people overload on being too visible and having too many devices and sites to check in with), it quickly grew old and I dropped the practice of checking it once in a while.
Clearly, however, millions of people are loving it still, and buying the hardcover book as well as downloading it on Kindle, because I received this happy little news item in one of the (too) many newsletters I subscribe to (Media Bistro): "Sh*t My Dad Says is the 377th most highlighted book on Kindle, loaded with foul-mouthed quotes from blogger Justin Halpern and cursing parents. This profane title has dominated the NY Times' nonfiction hardcover bestseller list for weeks." Maybe some of you love this book so much you sleep with it or your Kindle under your pillow so you ca…
Eighteen years ago, when I lived in LA, my best friend and roommate took a new kind of defense class for women. The kind with the man padded so thickly that he looked like the Michelin Man with a PacMan head.
Or, as I thought of the men, an inflated Gort head (for the The Day The Earth Stood Still enthusiast). Julie would come home and alternately practice on me and show me some of the moves (after we lay down some pillows of course!). The first night, the instructor had taught them a mantra to keep the women focused on the process they were learning. It was: "Stop! Assess! 911!" You can imagine how often we leaped out from around corners and behind doors, yelling this and scaring the crap out of each other. Months.
A few years ago, I created a handout that I started requiring my students to fill out, one that gave them an opportunity to similarly engage with their writing before it and they fell victim to ambivalence, inertia, or fear.
I recently ran across an article in The Guardian, where authors were asked for their personal dos and don’ts. There was no indication of how or why certain writers were chosen and most of it is repetitious drivel, but let’s go through the first bunch and have some fun, and in my next post we’ll take on a sort of companion article in Salon, about readers’ advice to writers.
Here we go, starting off positive, with an open mind:
Big Yes! to Elmore Leonard’s rules about ‘said’ and adverbs. Been guilty of both transgressions myself. They just creep up on you and before you know it you are ‘gasping’ and ‘grumbling’ and ‘coaxing’ and, God Help Me, ‘trilling.’ Yes, I once used ‘trilling.’ You can’t hate me more than I hate myself for that one.
I love Diana Athill’s idea of looking at passages you love with ‘a very beady eye.’ She says to check which passages would be better dead.
Perfect lead in for a more updated version of Arthur Quiller-Couch’s ‘murder your darlings’ (it …