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I finally got my hands on Eats, Shoots & Leaves. I haven't started reading it yet (need to finish The Restaurant at the End of The Universe first), but I'm really looking forward to picking up a few tips.
Here's something that probably obvious already, I'm not a very good writer. I'm also not a very talented editor. There are many days when writing is just down right painful. I don't think my sentences flow, and I don't think I have good "voice." To make matters worse, I don't think I understand the rules of grammar enough to be a really talented writer.
I was thinking about why it's so hard to be a good writer (a really good writer), and trying to figure out why so many people struggle with writing. I read good writers all the time. I read several newspapers (online) every day, most every night I read at least a couple pages of a well written book before I fall asleep. I read at least 30 or 40 articles written by professional journalists every day. I am exposed to thousands of well formed sentences with perfect punctuation, spelling and grammar a week in some form or another. But for some reason all that talent and all those good examples just don't stick. Writing, it seems, is just a tricky business, good writing takes real effort (at least for me) and, unfortunately reading good writing doesn't seem to automatically lead to being a talented writer.
I always wonder how often good writers have to rewrite something. I know if I don't reread things I've written at least twice I end up with a jumble of incomplete thoughts connected by random punctuation. For something to be marginally well put together I need to spend some real time with my writing. I've reread and rewritten this piece at least a dozen times and I bet I still missed at least 2 mistakes. Writing can't be this hard for everyone, can it? I have a feeling those at the top of the writing bell curve don't need to do quite as much editing, they let the words fall out of their talented heads and on to the page as if by magic. The sentences flow into each other and a complete story is told with less effort than it takes me to write a paragraph. Me, I often struggle with every sentence. But when they do come together, when things make sense, when I don't write a single sentence with 4 or even 5 commas (or add a parenthetical thought for no reason), it's worth it, it just feels good. To be able to put something together that involved more than a few sentences is a major accomplishment, to be able to put together an entire book is just an amazing accomplishment.
Me right pretty, won day. (Thanks two spell check, the won thing eye don't need too worry about is spelling.)