Monday, January 05, 2009

On Writing

I told myself I was going to try to write every day for a month at least once this year. Some of my friends manage to do that and more, but it's a real challenge to me. It's not that I have nothing to say, but it does sometimes seem hard to find something to say out loud to people who don't have to listen to me (as opposed to my students who do...or at least should...).

My Honors English class has been going through William Zinsser's book On Writing Well. They just finished writing travel articles and are now getting into memoir. I love teaching this book. First of all, it's a readable book, even for kids who would never choose to read a book about writing. A dentist friend of mine sent it to me years ago when it was in its second edition. (I now teach from the 30th anniversary edition.) This friend isn't a writer, per se, but he had read this book and loved it and thought I'd enjoy it. I did, and promptly started using it in class. It's a must-read for every writer, and an excellent resource for college students and high school seniors.

Another book on writing that I love to teach (and will be using after we finish this one) is Stephen King's On Writing. Truth be told, it's the only Stephen King book I've ever read, as I'm not a big fan of the kind of writing he has been so successful at. But this book is outstanding. And again, very readable for kids. Even more important, it's memorable for them, and practical. Once you start reading it, you canm't stop. A former student actually recommended it to me and I read it on a cross-country trip to California. I finished before the flight did! Even if you aren't into writing, it's fascinating about why and how someone becomes a writer.

Eudora Welty's One Writer's Beginnings was interesting to me as well. I've used it a few times in writing classes, but it doesn't go over as well as the above too, not sure why. Perhaps because it is just a short memoir as opposed to a memoir plus a how-to for writers.

These are just a few books on writing that I've enjoyed. Are there any that you've read and enjoyed?


Sunny said...

I think you should write about what you read as you go through the Bible. And send me copies of everything. I can use it 'you know where' for 'you know what.'

Jan McKenzie said...

Rondi, I just saw that you added a link to my blog. Thank you. I'll return the favour.

I've enjoyed reading Zinsser as well.

I'm almost ashamed to say I like E.B. White's essays; most of my blog writing is first draft material, something he rightly eschewed.

inlandempiregirl said...

I also enjoyed Zinner's book. I have often shared other writing books already on my blog. I will have to think if there are others and get back to you!