Vivid & Continuous (John McNally)

A writing book that begins with an epigraph from John Gardner? That bodes well for me. Gardner’s was one of the first books I read on craft and it has stood up well to rereading.

Vivid & Continuous contains 15 chapters, beginning with one on Writing and ending with one on Humility.

It contains some very broad advice. Such as: “no writer can please everyone”. And a general reminder that writers need to be very good manipulators. (Of text, yes, but also their own doubts and fears.) 

He offers specific advice too. For instance, he considers the twenty most common craft-related issues that lessen immediacy for a reader. The first is Dialogue Tags that Yell for Attention; the last is Searching for Substitute Words instead of using Commonplace ones (and, in between, Backstory and Simile-metaphor Overload). 

John McNally has read over a million pages of fiction written by beginning writers, and he has edited theme-based anthologies. He is well situated to identify the common default stories – those ubiquitous and problematic tales – even when they vary regionally (for instance, the plethora of snowboarding stories written in Colorado). 

He can warn against the overused and make suggestions to transcend. Which is what he does when it comes to specific structural and mechanical issues as well, as in the chapter on  Imitative Fallacy. Here he begins with a definition and ends with examples of how Flowers for Algernon mitigates the common problems associated with Imitative Fallacy and also explains Keyes’ techniques.

McNally relies upon familiar stories and full-length works to demonstrate a variety of techniques and approaches. In fact, there are ten pages filled with tiny print at the end of the volume, devoted to  Further Reading.

This includes his Works Cited but also an extended reference list, which includes biographies and collections of letters, story collections and novels. Although there are not many representatives of either young writers or genre writers, otherwise the list is representative of a wide variety of literary prose.; he recommends writers from Bradbury to Gaitskill, from Gowdy to Hurston. 

At the end of each chapter are a few exercises, which are designed to work well for both individuals and groups. (It’s frustrating when exercises are designed only for a classroom setting: surely the majority of readers are alone in a room with a piece of paper.) These are general enough to be inspiring but specific enough to feel fresh and repeatable.

Very good stuff for writers.

Selected Quotes:

“There is, when all is said and done, only that which works for you.”

“I’ve been thinking a lot about humility recently because, as a creative writing professor, I see less and less of it every year, and it depresses me.”

“Routine, routine, routine: a writer finds a routine that works and, barring life’s interferences, sticks with it.”

McNally, John. Vivid & Continuous: Essays and Exercises for Writing Fiction (U of Iowa, 2013)

Margaret Laurence Lecture: Hugh MacLennan, 1987

In a letter to Marian Engel, Hugh MacLennan wrote: ““But factually I’m fifty, even though my economic status is no more secure than than of the average McGill engineering graduate. But time, the ability at last to become accustomed to it, to measure its power and effects – there’s no doubt of it, a novelist needs that. A woman novelist, oddly, needs it much less than a man. That is because a woman of 20, if she’s intelligent, is basically more mature than an intelligent man of 30.”

It was 1957. Thirty years later, he is eighty years old and delivering the first of the Margaret Laurence lectures.

“It seems a grim jest of God that she should be gone and I should be here, for I was born some eighteen years before she came into the world.”

Because I am less familiar with his works and more familiar with Laurence’s, I enjoyed the first part of the piece more. (And it was particularly fine to discover a reference to the importance of both Laurence and Gabrielle Roy to the Manitoba letters scene, as I have been systematically reading through Roy’s works over the past year.)

His piece is preoccupied with time, as suits an octogenarian speaker, and it is interesting to read his perspective on the relationships between nations.

“Sometimes people ask, ‘What is the difference between Canada and the United States apart from the climates?’ Historically and psychologically there are very great differences. Until the long debacle in Vietnam, the Americans had never lost a war against a foreign power. But the ancestors of nearly all Canadians were losers.”

His experience being a writer stretched from Princeton to Oxford, from Halifax to Germany; he literally ran into Einstein walking on campus and compares the prices of orange juice and hot dogs across the decades. As one would expect, even only having read Two Solitudes, there is much to consider about national identities and conflicts large and small.

MacLennan has nothing to say about his writing process or whether he liked to read in the mornings or in the evenings. He looked outward as much as he looked inward.

Ulitmately, however, the piece left me wanting to read his last novel, to which he refers as having taken him six years to write, Voices in Time. And his discussion of the introduction of a Metis writer, to the pages of Margaret Laurence’s fiction, made me want to reread The Diviners.

Next in the series? Mavis Gallant. Won’t that be a treat.

Still Writing (Dani Shapiro)

Still Writing falls somewhere between Elizabeth Berg’s Escaping into the Open and Anne Lamott’s Bird By Bird. It contains some concrete advice and some general musings, some straight talk and some philosophizing.

Her tone is conversational and at times the narrative feels very personal. She says, for instance: “If I’m not writing, my heart hardens, rather than lifts.” Perhaps that isn’t true for every writer but it speaks to me.

Not every line has an immediate or intense resonance for me, however. I feel less of a connection to this description of the process: “The page turns from us like a wounded lover. We will have to win it over, coax it out of hiding. Promise to do better next time. Apologize for our disregard. And then, we settle into the pattern that we know.”

But Dani Shapiro combines a personal response with more commonplace observations of the writing life.

“So what is it about writing that makes it – for some of us – as necessary as breathing? It is in the thousands of days of trying, failing, sitting, thinking, resisting, dreaming, raveling, unraveling that we are at our most engaged, alert, and alive. Time slips away.”

Sometimes she offers straightforward advice:

“Act as if you are a writer. Sit down and begin. Act as if you might just create something beautiful, and by beautiful I mean something authentic and universal. Don’t wait for anybody to tell you it’s okay. Take that shimmer and show us our humanity. That’s your job.”

She is well aware of the standard pitfalls and challenges and issues direct warnings:

“We are commuting inward. And on Monday mornings – or after a long holiday, a summer vacation, any time we have been away from the page – we have to be even more vigilant about that commute. We are traveling to that place inside ourselves – so small as to be invisible – where we are free to roam and play.”

At times, her language is strikingly simple: “Word after word, sentence after sentence, we build our writing lives.”

Is this really a helpful statement? Perhaps not for every writer. But as someone who has spent more time resisting the simple act of writing a sentence, I find simple directives useful.

“Who would ever be in the mood to write?” she asks. And, then, she sends you to your desk.

Good stuff for writers!

Dani Shapiro’s Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life
Atlantic Monthly Press, 2013

[Note I added this to my reading list thanks to Alexis Kienlen, whose comment on GoodReads convinced me that I should give it a try.]

Bird by Bird (Anne Lamott)

Whenever I look at the list of books about writing that I’ve considered on this site, I feel a pang of disloyalty.

Most of the books that had a fundamental impact on the way that I think about writing are books that I read a long time ago, books whose titles are not listed here, books whose ideas have no gratitude expressed towards them here.

When I decided to re-read Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird this year, that’s what I was thinking about. It was a deliberately planned pilgrimage. But I was nervous about it.

Sometime between 1994 and February 2012, I did pick up Bird by Bird again, and I hadn’t loved it with the same fervour that I had when I first discovered it. After only a few chapters, I set it aside and wondered if I hadn’t grown out of it.

After that, I stopped recommending it as widely as I had, even though it was one of the books whose names still came immediately to mind when I considered influential books on writing. After that, I looked at my copy warily, like you look at a favourite food that’s been tainted by the memory of having eaten it on an evening that transformed into a particularly painful morning-after.

But now I can comfortably refer to it as a favourite once more. If I ever find the notes that I made from that first reading (if, in fact, I made notes, because all I remember is racing through it, even taking it into the tub, so attached was I), I might find that I noted completely different passages, but the number of flags that marked the remarkable passages of this re-read was an impressive tally indeed.

What makes Bird by Bird such a vital resource for me?

First, the specific.

“One line of dialogue that rings true reveals character in a way that pages of description can’t.”

“If there is one door in the castle you have been told not to go through, you must. Otherwise, you’ll just be rearranging furniture in rooms you’ve already been in.”

Next, the general.

“Writing is about hypnotizing yourself into believing in yourself, getting some work done, then unhypnotizing yourself and going over the material coldly.”

“Perfectionism is a mean, frozen form of idealism, while messes are the artists’ true friend. What people (inadvertently, I’m sure) forgot to mention when we were children was that we need to make messes in order to find out who we are and why we are here – and, by extension, what we’re supposed to be writing.”

Also, her bookishness.

“I read more than other kids; I luxuriated in books. Books were my refuge. I sat in corners with my little finger hooked over my bottom lip, reading, in a trance, lost in the places and times to which books took me.”

“Becoming a writer can also profoundly change your life as a reader. One reads with a deeper appreciation and concentration, knowing now how hard writing is, especially how hard it is to make it look effortless. You begin to read with a writer’s eyes. You focus in a new way.”

And, finally, her voice.

“There are moments when I am writing when I think that if other people knew how I felt right now, they’d burn me at the stake for feeling so good, so full, so much intense pleasure. I pay through the nose for these moments, of course, with / lots of torture and self-loathing and tedium, but when I am done for the day, I have something to show for it.”

“To be engrossed by something outside ourselves is a powerful antidote for the rational mind, the mind that so frequently has its head up is own ass – seeing things in such a narrow and darkly narcissistic way that it presents a colo-rectal theology, offering hope to no one.”

It’s Still Great Stuff for Writers.

Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (1994)
Pantheon Books, 1995

The Deluxe Transitive Vampire: The Ultimate Handbook of Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed (Karen Elizabeth Gordon)

A newer, fancier-schmancier version of her 1984 handbook, The Transitive Vampire, The Deluxe Transitive Vampire offers more of the same, with prettier pictures, wider margins, and somewhat more content.

In the preface, Karen Elizabeth Gordon explains: “”I crawled beneath the lines of the previous version and found what had been left unsaid because of questions I hadn’t asked. The answers came in many voices, with me emerging somewhat battered and bruised from the adventure (and there are these curious marks on my throat), but that’s what it took to tear the terror from this terrain.”

If you truly find English grammar terrifying, this likely isn’t the book for you. But, if you are well-versed, and simply need a refresher, but find yourself wholly reluctant to start at the beginning of The Chicago Manual of Style and read straight through, The Deluxe Transitive Vampire manages to straddle the line between useful and amusing.

Its gothic flavour does not detract from its clarity. The introduction states: “Learning is less a curse than a distraction. If you nuzzle these pages with abandon, writing will lose its terror and your sentences their disarray.”

The text is divided as follows: Sentences, Words, Nouns, Verbs, Verbals, Adjectives and Adverbs, Pronouns, Agreements, Phrases, Clauses, and, finally, Fragments, Splices, and Run-ons.

See, it covers the basics and you can’t help but grin at the examples for even the most straight-forward elements of the text.

As an example of a compound predicate, from the Words section: “The baby vampire hurled his bottle at his nanny and screamed for type O instead.”

As an example of prepositions, from the Words section: “Lisa shakily stood her ground with the obstreperous opposition of her puny will.”

Even something as elementary as a noun is more interesting in The Deluxe Transitive Vampire: “That’s the pure, simple beauty of the noun: utter the word, and you have company on your hands, however abstract (apathy, hypothesis, dissent), palpable (balsa wood, marzipan), or specific (the Loch Ness Monster, Elvis Presley, The Duino Elegies).”

However, the pleasure of the text does depend on the reader’s familiarity with the concepts herein. If you didn’t have at least a passing familiarity with past perfect participles, a sentence like this one might through you off course in her discussion of verbals:

Having been seen to have seen the crime at the scene of it, the innocent onlooked feared the rat pack would hunt her down after the big Appenzeller heist.”

Nonetheless, how funny is this bit from the Agreements section: “The shade of sadness we call the blues can take a singular or plural verb, since anyone who has them can’t be bothered to look it up, or to be consistent about whether it is — or they are — in pieces or in a solid hopeless mass.”

And even if you’re not interested in the details, you have to grin at the fantastic illustrations, which often relate directly to the text. For instance, one of the simpler illustrations, a bat, appears on a page with this tidbit about agreement: “Often these issues are so easy and apparent that you scarcely bat an eye.”

Still, it’s not all gothic fun ‘n’ games, The Deluxe Transitive Vampire is a solid introductory handbook. It offers everything from definitions (e.g. “The verb is the heartthrob of a sentence.”) to useful tips and tricks (it is particularly tricky) like this one about distinguishing between participial phrases and gerunds: “If you’re confused in the presence of an -ing word, you can find out if it’s a gerund by making it submit to this simple test (no torturing the prisoner, please): Can it be preceded by an article or by a possessive form?”

If you’re looking to sharpen your skills, this reference book has teeth. The fun kind.

Good stuff for writers.

Karen Elizabeth Gordon’s The Deluxe Transitive Vampire: The Ultimate Handbook of Grammar for the Innocent, the Eager, and the Doomed (Pantheon Books, 1993)

Ben Yagoda’s The Sound on the Page: Style and Voice in Writing (2004)

To begin with a cliché, which of course Ben Yagoda would never do, it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. That’s style. And that’s at the core of Ben Yagoda’s The Sound on the Page.

Accepting as his premise, “style matters”, Ben Yagoda went on to interview more than 40 writers.

He quickly discovered that it wasn’t an easy subject to discuss overtly. Some writers approach style consciously, others subconsciously, and even those who do approach it deliberately had difficulty assembling their explanations.

“The underlying movement is a circling around the subject, until finally it is securely roped and tied to the ground.”

The writers interviewed include Jonathan Raban, Abraham Verghese, Dave Barry, Andrei Codrescu, Elmore Leonard, Cynthia Ozick, John Updike, Camille Paglia, Junot Díaz, Jamaica Kinkaid, Bebe Moore Campbell and Bill Bryson.

From whether one prefers writing longhand to writings on a keyboard, from literary influences to Strunk and White, from writing in Black English to the overuse of adverbs: it’s all here.

The author declares that it’s not a how-to guide, but nonetheless every page has  “implications for writers who are interested in discovering and developing their own style”.

And these pages are best absorbed over time. The narrative contains long excerpts of the interviews, and some chapters are comprised entirely of writers’ thoughts on style.

This is not a work with the conversational style of Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, or the intimate tone of bell hooks’ remembered rapture; The Sound on the Page feels formal, methodical and s-e-r-i-o-u-s.

“To be sure, most of us neither can be nor want to be a Hemingway. But all of us have within us a quieters sort of stylistic distinctiveness. Anyone who is serious about writing in any form is engaged in a lifelong waltz with this capability.”

Random Quotes:

“Thinking about voice, my first thought was that it’s about identity, recognizability, individuation. But then I thought, no, recognizabilty is not the point, it’s the result — of emotion, movement, kinetic thought, dance, fear, love. It’s the result of specific experience filtered through a specific sieve.” Sharon Olds

“If you’re a lens with a particular grind, with warps and bumps, the writers you like are lights that can shine through that lens. Different lights are going to reveal different aspects. You end up with a map of your own lens — the things that come up again and again.” Michael Chabon

It’s Good Stuff for Writers.

Yagoda, Ben The Sound on the Page: Style and Voice in Writing (HarperResource – HarperCollins, 2004)

remembered rapture (bell hooks)

Some of the collections of essays about writing on my shelves are permanently creased to mark the essays that I enjoy, tighter sections on the book’s binding marking those essays which I only read once.

My copy of this collection, remembered rapture, is well-worn throughout. It is like that perfect album that you could listen to straight-through.

In her introduction, “rapture from the deep”, hooks explains that she is writing from the perspective of a cultural critic and a literary scholar and a creative writer. And, so, some of the essays are academic, others playful, and some celebratory.

Perhaps it is this combination of styles which makes the volume so satisfying, the sense of listening to her speak from a lectern alternating with the sense of sitting together at a kitchen table.

“In many of these essays I grapple with the issue of public work as an intellectual in and outside the academy and that space of writing that is always intimate, private, solitary.”

What I find remarkable about this is not just that her pieces are affecting regardless of the shift in tone and voice, but that they continue to reach me across the years.

When I first discovered this collection, I had not read Zora Neale Hurston or Ann Petry or Toni Cade Bambara — though I had read Toni Morrison and hooks’ Bone Black — but I read those essays all the same. (Quite likely they were — at least partially — responsible for nudging those writers onto my TBR list.)

And, on re-reading the essays, I realize that I still haven’t read Lorraine Hansberry, or Gwendolyn Brooks’ Maud Martha, or Jessie Fauset’s Plum Bun, or Frances Harper’s Iola Leroy, Kristing Hunter’s The Survivors and The Lakestown Rebellion.

hooks appeals every bit as strongly to the reader in me as she does to the writer in me. But, paradoxically, turning to remembered rapture is something I do as a writer first, so the rest is just a bonus.

“I began to write in my girlhood. And I am writing still, moving swiftly into midlife with a body of words I have made into books beside me. No passion in my life has been as constant, as true as this love. No passion has been as demanding. When words call, to answer, to satisfy the urge, I must come again and again to a solitary place — a place where I am utterly alone.”

I find it hard to stop there. I want to include the entire passage.

And that is the same sensation with which I love moving through this collection.

It’s Terrific Stuff for Writers.

hooks, bell. remembered rapture (Henry Holt and Company, 1999)

Escaping into the Open: The Art of Writing True (Elizabeth Berg)

The first time I read Escaping into the Open, I had a day job working for a couple who understood that I would work my butt off for them, but that I wanted, more than anything to not be working for them, to be writing full-time.

He was a liberal-minded sort, and she was a reader (we both loved Elizabeth Berg’s trilogy which began with Durable Goods); over the years in which I worked for them, they allowed me to reduce and increase the number of shifts I worked, to allow for more time with drafts and less time with a cash register, and they celebrated with me when Room published a short piece set in their shop.

This time, rather than read the book on my lunches and breaks, I was reading it in the afternoons, sitting outside in a summer which was the launch of a full-time writing stint, almost ten years after my first reading of it.

I haven’t read an Elizabeth Berg novel in almost that many years, but I picked up Escaping into the Open because I remembered the writing prompts being good. And they are.

They straddle the line of being accessible without being too basic, and also sparking creativity without pushing it to the limit.

They’re like warm-up exercises for me, when I know that I want to work on something in particular, but I can’t shift into it. (As opposed to not having a project in mind, and wanting to jolt something out of me, which requires a different kind of prompt: see chatter about Take Ten for Writers by Bonnie Neubauer.)

Here are some examples of Elizabeth Berg’s prompts:

 Describe taking a walk in winter using sounds only. (Especially fun doing this in June)

Compare snow to food. (Yes, I’m a bit obsessed with extreme temperatures these days.)

What used to live under your bed. (For a non-winter-inspired prompt.)

Name three things an ear looks like. (Really, most of them are not winter-ish.)

As for the prose, which comprises the bulk of Escaping into the Open, it’s a comfortable read for the most part. The emphasis is on finding your own voice, and she embraces the idea that different people write for different reasons.

“The more you write the way you want to (the way something at your center is telling you to), the better the writing will be.”

She really does put the emphasis on the writer as individual.

“We need the chance to draw from our own unique selves, to act according to our own beliefs, without any interference from others. I believe that solitude, perhaps more than anything, breeds creativity, breeds originality.”

And, for the most part, she is not restrictive about her approach. She affords the reader an opportunity to recognize him- or herself in her prose.

“As a writer, you should have a sticky soul; the act of continually taking things in should be as much a part of you as your hair color.”

It’s easy to find yourself in statements like this, to feel included in the circle that Elizabeth Berg is drawing with her work.

And, yet, I do have a quibble. In discussing all the things a writer should have, in saying that most of them cost nothing, she overlooks the fact that many of them rely upon one of the elements in her list which certainly does have a cost, but not one a wanna-be-writer can save up for: Prosperity.

Sure, you can make up a Purpose and a Plan (the first two items on her list), but being able to actualize those things depends upon opportunity.

“It will require some sort of sacrifice at first, but if you’re meant to be (or in fact already are) a writer, you’ll find a way to do it.”

It sounds like one of those things that someone who has-never-had-to-do-without would say. Someone who has never had to take a day job where their employers seemed hardly human, where despair filled the spot that used to hold the art of writing.

I didn’t always have understanding and supportive employers; had I read this when I was holding another job, when I was too busy hating myself on weekends and in the evenings for not writing, I would have felt Elizabeth Berg’s statement keenly and likely set aside her book. (And set aside the idea of writing perhaps, too.) But I know that’s my bias showing.

(And, yes, I admit, that would have meant missing out on her Food for (Creative) Thought chapter, which does include some terrific recipes, including one for Wickedly Delicious Chocolate Cake, which I felt the need to make upon finishing this re-read earlier this summer.)

Overall, Elizabeth Berg’s Escaping into the Open is Good Stuff for Writers.

Elizabeth Berg’s Escaping into the Open: The Art of Writing True (1999) HarperCollins, 2000

Take Ten for Writers: 1,000 Inspiring Exercises (Bonnie Neubauer)

So you might remember that I have a bad attitude about Writer’s Digest Books, but this is a second exception to my rule.

If there are many more of these (see “taking that back” here, too), I may have to revise aforementioned attitude. [Note: this was the beginning of a trend.]

In the introduction to Take Ten for Writers, Bonnie Neubauer states that “if you are not putting pen to paper, you are at rest”, and she proceeds to explain the set-up of the book, which is designed to start the flow of creative energy, get the momentum going.

She also includes five rules, but begins by clearly stating that they’re there for those who like rules, and there to rebel against for those who don’t. Ha!

But let’s get down to the math. The book has 100 exercises, each appearing on the odd-numbered page.

After you read through the page, you are to choose a number between one to ten, which will correspond to the variation (one of ten choices) on the flip-side of the page.

So that’s how you end up with one thousand exercises. (See, she even makes math accessible.)

Some of the exercises’ variations are more varied than others. For instance, the one which gets you to continue a story begun on the first page by adopting the voice of a food in the fridge. Well, that one just didn’t sit well with me and, anyway, the scope of the exercise is relatively limited compared to others.

But, for another example, take being asked to make a selection from 1 to 31 and use the word that appears beside the figure you’ve chosen to launch a freewrite. Next,  choose another number between 32 and 62 (the idea being that you can use the date and double it, if you’re not random-minded). Then you are to write a second freewrite that begins with the word next to your second number, a freewrite which is connected to the first in some way.

Well, you can see how that kind of open-ended set-up could hold months worth of writing. (But, yes, that math was hard. S’why I’m in the letters game.)

Regardless of the scope of the exercises, however, the book’s design is also worth mentioning. Each page has its own style (with a slim border around each contributing to a sense of continuity) and contains contrasting and striking colour usage and also a wide variety of supporting media. The presentation alone stimulates the creative juices.

For me, the kind of prompts in Take Ten for Writers are of a different sort than those included in Elizabeth Berg’s Escaping into the Open (which I’ll chat about in a few weeks), which are more open-ended.

Neubauer’s is not a book that I would turn to when I’m sitting down in the morning to write but can’t easily pick up the threads of the manuscript I’m working on; when I’m living with a book or story but can’t get into the right space to move ahead with it, a looser kind of prompt can be easily adapted to suit what I’m working on, and it’s like a tool with a purpose.

Bonnie Neubauer’s prompts are the sort that I would turn to when I`m not focussing on a specific project, when I want to get my head out of what I’ve been working on, or when I don’t have something on the go.

They are the kind of prompts that can work into something new for me. It’s like deciding that you want to exercise but you don’t want to do the usual pilates or aerobic routine, so you decide to go dancing instead.

Inspiring Stuff for Writers.

Bonnie Neubauer’s Take Ten for Writers: 1,000 Inspiring Exercises. Writer`s Digest Books, 2009.

A Writer’s Time (Kenneth Atchity)

Setting aside the question of word processors being a novelty, much useful advice remains in this volume, particularly about time management and getting your butt in the chair and making the most of the time you have it there.

You can’t always be productive and Kenneth Atchity doesn’t make you feel terrible about that. “Knowing the moment to quit is the key to reorganizing your writing time.”

He suggests that you work with what you have. “If you want to be a writer, don’t hope to displace your anxiety. Instead, find ways of coping with it, tricking it, transforming it.”

His underlying theme is to assure the writer that s/he can realize her/his vision. And why not believe in it? “Treading on your own dreams is truly insane.” Overall, the tone is encouraging and supportive, and I prefer his approach to that offered in Kelly L. Stone’s Time to Write.

Atchity’s work also offers something beyond the common sense, nose-to-the-grindstone advice; he has his own ideas and suggests his own techniques. His suggestions are practical and you don’t need any of those fancy-schmancy word-processors to put them into action. (I don’t mean to make fun of the dated bits: they add flavour.)

Here are a couple more quotes:

“You must stop editing – or you’ll never finish anything.”

“Style is what happens when characteristic energy shapes mechanical precision. It’s not something you create: style is what you are.”

It’s not page-shattering, but it’s useful stuff for writers.

Kenneth Atchity’s A Writer’s Time (1988) Norton, 1986