Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The ear is the only true writer and the only true reader. 
~ Robert Frost

 The question was posed to me recently by a good friend of mine over at Writing Wanderlust. The exact question was: What qualities do you think would make a ‘True Writer’?

We all know that writers are born, not made. It’s innate, like being born charming and suave, except we’re born being able to make nice sentences and make up cool stories. But what is a 'true writer'? Can it be qualified?

I can only go by the writers that I admire and love, the one’s that I see as ‘true writers’, because I have no words to describe what a true writer is, except to show you.

I’m partial to ink-stained wretches like Jack Kerouac and the Beats, who toiled in abject poverty, who gathered in coffee shops to discuss ideas, who lived in run-down apartments and worked away at their craft on antiquated typewriters, oblivious to everything. They walked the streets, man; suffered, and art is suffering and overcoming adversity, and that’s what gives it its heart; that’s what writing is. If you’ve been there, then you can write about it. If you haven’t been there, how can you describe it?

Jack and his ilk were wanderers, thinkers. They didn’t just write it, they lived it; they paid their dues. In fact, most of the writers a half century ago were wanderers: Hemingway, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Steinbeck. They had to go explore the world because it wasn’t just a click away on a computer then. You actually had to go there.

Are there 'true writers' today? Sure there are; they’re the ones who recognize the wonderful literary past and try to aspire to it. They’re the ones who still write long-hand in loose leaf note books, the ones who write in coffee shops for inspiration , the ones who walk around with pieces of paper and a pen all day in case something brilliant comes to mind. They lurk in old used book stores, flipping through dog-eared paperbacks, ignoring stomach and time. They’re the ones who buy old Underwood Typewriters even though they can’t really use them anymore. They know what you mean when you say the names Holden Caulfield, Daisy Buchanan and Jay Gatsby.  They’re out there, those 'true writers'.  They’re everywhere.  And no can of Raid will ever kill them off.

And now the Grammar Lesson for today, RE the use of You and Me, I, Etc:

Consider the following sentence: You and I should have lunch.

Is the correct form of this sentence You and I ... or You and me ...? This is a common source of confusion in English.

Fortunately, there's an easy way to decide whether to use I or me in such sentences. All you have to do is drop the word you then try the sentence with I and me one at a time. For example:

• I should have lunch.

• Me should have lunch.

Clearly the preferred form in this case is I; thus, the original sentence was correct to use you and I.

Here's another example: He'll blame you and I. Drop the word you then try the sentence with I and me one at a time, like so:

• He'll blame I.

• He'll blame me.

You can see that the second of these is correct. This means that the original sentence should have been: He'll blame you and me.


On a related note, when using phrases such as you and me, you and I or them and us, it has traditionally been considered courteous to place the reference to yourself last. For example, we prefer:

• He'll ask you and me later.


• He'll ask me and you later.

WORDHUNTER: Cool and Beautiful

Firmament -The vault or expanse of the heavens; the sky.

Fixity -

Palimpsest -
A manuscript written over earlier ones.

Panacea -
A solution for all problems

Dalliance -
A brief love affair.

Demesne -
Dominion, territory.

Demure -
Shy and reserved.

Ebullience -
Bubbling enthusiasm.

Effervescent -

Languor -
Listlessness, inactivity.

Lassitude -
Weariness, listlessness.

Lissome -
Slender and graceful.

Lithe -
Slender and flexible.

Mellifluous -
Sweet sounding.

Onomatopoeia -
A word that sounds like its meaning.

Surreptitious -
Secretive, sneaky.

Susquehanna -
A river in Pennsylvania.

Pastiche -
An art work combining materials from various sources.

Desultory -
Slow, sluggish.

Diaphanous -
Filmy. A half-shadow.

Redolent -

Riparian -
By the bank of a stream.

Susurrous -
Whispering, hissing.

Scintilla -
A spark or very small thing.

Sempiternal -

Dissemble -

Dulcet -
Sweet, sugary.

"On Writing: Aphorisms and Ten-Second Essays"

1. A beginning ends what an end begins.

2. The despair of the blank page: it is so full.

3. In the head Art’s not democratic. I wait a long time to be a writer good enough even for myself.

4. The best time is stolen time.

5. All work is the avoidance of harder work.

6. When I am trying to write I turn on music so I can hear what is keeping me from hearing.

7. I envy music for being beyond words. But then, every word is beyond music.

8. Why would we write if we’d already heard what we wanted to hear?

9. The poem in the quarterly is sure to fail within two lines: flaccid, rhythmless, hopelessly dutiful. But I read poets from strange languages with freedom and pleasure because I can believe in all that has been lost in translation. Though all works, all acts, all languages are already translation.

10. Writer: how books read each other.

11. Idolaters of the great need to believe that what they love cannot fail them, adorers of camp, kitsch, trash that they cannot fail what they love.

12. If I didn’t spend so much time writing, I’d know a lot more. But I wouldn’t know anything.

13. If you’re Larkin or Bishop, one book a decade is enough. If you’re not? More than enough.

14. Writing is like washing windows in the sun. With every attempt to perfect clarity you make a new smear.

15. There are silences harder to take back than words.

16. Opacity gives way. Transparency is the mystery.

17. I need a much greater vocabulary to talk to you than to talk to myself.

18. Only half of writing is saying what you mean. The other half is preventing people from reading what they expected you to mean.

19. Believe stupid praise, deserve stupid criticism.

20. Writing a book is like doing a huge jigsaw puzzle, unendurably slow at first, almost self-propelled at the end. Actually, it’s more like doing a puzzle from a box in which several puzzles have been mixed. Starting out, you can’t tell whether a piece belongs to the puzzle at hand, or one you’ve already done, or will do in ten years, or will never do.

21. Minds go from intuition to articulation to self-defense, which is what they die of.

22. The dead are still writing. Every morning, somewhere, is a line, a passage, a whole book you are sure wasn’t there yesterday.

23. To feel an end is to discover that there had been a beginning. A parenthesis closes that we hadn’t realized was open).

24. There, all along, was what you wanted to say. But this is not what you wanted, is it, to have said it?"
— James Richardson

"The problem, if anything, was precisely the opposite. I had too much to write:

too many fine and miserable buildings to construct and streets to name and clock towers to set chiming,

too many characters to raise up from the dirt like flowers whose petals I peeled down to the intricate frail organs within,

too many terrible genetic and fiduciary secrets to dig up and bury and dig up again,

too many divorces to grant,

heirs to disinherit,

trysts to arrange,

letters to misdirect into evil hands,

innocent children to slay with rheumatic fever,

women to leave unfulfilled and hopeless,

men to drive to adultery and theft,

fires to ignite at the hearts of ancient houses. "

— Michael Chabon (Wonder Boys)

Okay folks, that's it for now. I'm off to go scribble for a while; I have places to go, and crazy characters to meet. Beats working for a living, don't it?

Your resident nut-bar and psycho-scribe, David


  1. Very informative, thanks for sharing.

  2. A true writer is someone who writes. That's all there is to it.


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