Isn’t that a book already? Actually it is – a memoir by Pierre Berton. I hope he gave a tip of the hat to Joy of Cooking author Irma Rombauer for the inspiration.
Writing has always been my favorite way of communicating. I like it better than even speaking on the phone to someone. I think better when I’m either putting fingers to a keyboard or setting a pen to paper. It gives me the opportunity to think linearly and logically, when I wish to write non-creatively: pick the topic, add sentences supporting your position or thoughts, give evidence, persuade or inspire.
But I also love playing with words. I was one of those funny kids who loved learning about words in school – where did they come from; how did they get their present shape? When I discovered the Oxford English Dictionary, with its complete etomology of each and every word in the language, I was transfixed. Why do we use certain synonyms? I loved learning all the different flavors of a word. I can hear my friends now saying, why do you have to use the word frank when the word candid will do? Or any of the other synonyms that convey open, sincere, honest, or plainspoken? Because! I’d shake my head – don’t they understand the connotations? Don’t they hear the music of the word? Sometimes you need one, sometimes the other.
How I got started
It was in third grade that we all starting writing stories for our English class each week. Our teacher would give us a topic or question, and we’ll all write a page. (A ‘prompt’ in writers’ jargon.) I’ll never forget one essay I composed: “I wish I had a money tree.” I kept it for years, along with all my other papers, thus getting a jump start on my lifetime of hoarding books. Looking back at it I was appalled at my sheer greed and sloth: I ended the page saying I would just eat and read all day. Actually, that does sound like my idea of heaven right now!
Later on, I kept writing – both for the high school newspaper and the college paper. The only story from those years I remember is the feature I did on the ducks that lived on the Thomas Cooper Library pond at USC. Later there were freelance articles in newspapers and magazines in Columbia and Savannah. Then I spent two glorious years writing for a small weekly paper, before I went on to be an editor at a daily.
Starting this blog
Over 20 years ago I went corporate, starting by doing communications work. Then I got into the web game, and corporate life became a string of projects, analysis, testing, and usability work. Shortly after completing a masters in 2010, I decided it was time to start a blog so I could write again. At the beginning, it was random day-to-day happenings, more diary than journal or newsletter. And lots of cat pictures.
Fits and starts
I kept it going fairly regularly for about four years; then, life got in the way. Back in 2022 I re-started and did fairly well. But this year: this is the year I’ve dedicated the blog to only four topics, all revolving around my special interests: Books (including writing, literature, and just plain fun reads); my new Keto Journey and my love of cooking (with lots of fun pictures!), and Gardening. I’m dedicated different areas of the top navigation to those categories, and I’ll be blogging more frequently on each topic.
Next up: Masterclass
My newest strategy: taking lessons from some of the world’s best. My membership in Masterclass is giving me access to some best-selling authors. I want to explore how do they handle the problems of fleshing out a character in fiction? How do they write compelling openings, that draw a reader in and make them want to spend time with the people in the book? When you’re reading, it’s as if you’re entering that character’s world, or as if you’ve invited that character to come over to your house, sit on your couch and chat for a while. How can I make people want to spend time with my characters? So off to Masterclass I go. Now, my biggest question – do I choose Judy Blume‘s or Amy Tan‘s class? Or perhaps Neil Gaiman? Good thing the membership is for a year. I can and will do all three.
One thought on “The Joy of Writing”
Neil Gaiman’s Masterclass was amazing. It wasn’t so much about learning, but the stories he shares that gave me the motivation to finish my first novel. RL Stine’s Masterclass is great too. Enjoy your sessions!