Phillip Hubbell en Publishers & Bloggers, Communications and journalism, Writers Project Manager 7/11/2016 · 2 min de lectura · 1,9K

Learning to Write

Learning to Write

“It is my contention that Aesop was writing for the tortoise market. hares have no time to read.” Anita Brookner

A lot of posts about writing lately. I am afraid that my style of writing isn’t in any way like I speak. I have a face for radio and a voice for silent pictures. I started writing so I could be both silent and hidden. I don’t always write about what I know either. I often write about what I think I know. The difference isn’t subtle. I often struggle to make a single point, surrounding it with a lot of information and raging rhetoric. Most of the stuff, well planned, never gets finished because I generally only write something in reaction to something else. The well-planned stuff gets shelved. The inspired stuff gets finished.

I understand my limitations but can’t resist the attempt to exceed them. Putting together a few words to achieve an impact has been a skill for some time. It started out in speech class in high school. I was terrible in speech class. I couldn’t speak off the cuff without stammering, so I would write everything out and read it. My speech teacher hated it. I even joined Toastmasters to no avail. I speak like I write, stop, start, backup, repeat, back up again, change the wording and try again. I have the words. They are all sitting there in a pile, waiting to surface, but when I reach down and pick one up, it is inevitably the wrong one. So, I toss it back and grab another.

Back in the olden days of pens and pencils…you know, the dark ages, I discovered that I could write stuff about stuff and make it sound plausible. I remember writing book reports for waitresses in bars for drinks and hoped for phone numbers. Sometimes, it was even books I had read. I was attracted to waitresses because they were generally hired for their looks and my father used to tell me, “never date a woman you meet in a bar unless she works there.” When I asked him why, he told me that they (waitresses) were the only single women who had any business being there and they had a job. Daddy was a born in a different time.

I have read books about writing. I have taken classes about writing. I have listened to the experts on writing. I have never paid much attention. While I don’t write how I talk, I do write how I think…and what I think. I think, generally, I get my point across. I seek to entertain. I am a firm believer that if I can get a smile out of the reader, my viewpoint has a better chance of surviving the read.

When I was in school, I loved the essay questions. Other questions had right and wrong answers. Essay questions afforded me the opportunity to be wrong, yet clever. I could get extra credit if the professor laughed. I also liked being provocative. At a point in my writing life, I wrote “hit” letters to the editor for a Congressman of my acquaintance. He would get attacked in the newspaper and my job (unpaid), was to write a response to the editorial or letter writer, poking fun at their original comments. I was good at it. The Congressman thought it was great and would send me ‘thank you’ notes. Acknowledgement was my payment.

I stopped writing op-eds and letters to the editor when I started traveling for a living. I switched over to blog posts, the occasional magazine article on some technology I was working on and my books. I have never made any money writing. The kinds of things that might have made me a paid writer didn’t really interest me much. I found technical writing…well, technical and my books I wrote because I wanted a record of how my brain worked for my descendants to read someday. I also wanted to see if I could do it. Writing something book length is a challenge. I’ve done it five times, so the challenge is proven.

All the writing advice is great for people who are serious about writing. I have never been serious about it. I do it for the sheer joy, setting aside the seriousness for others to concern themselves with. I break fundamental rules. I produce stories filled with incomplete sentences and I dangle the participles off the end of split infinitives. I do wish there had been word processing software when I was young. I’d rule the world by now had that been the case.

Just so you know, I did get some phone numbers out of waitresses. I met my wife at a birthday party and not at a bar. 

 

Phillip J Hubbell is a writer/author, project manager and job seeker living in the American Midwest.


Kevin Pashuk 8/11/2016 · #29

You've become a catalyst for some great discussion again Phillip.

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Phil Friedman 8/11/2016 · #28

#27 Actually, Alexa, even more than being opposed to telling other people how to write, I am opposed to counseling people to write at a fifth grade level: ( https://www.bebee.com/producer/@friedman-phil/hemingway-may-have-advised-to-write-at-a-third-grade-level-but ). Cheers!

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Alexa Steele 8/11/2016 · #27

@Phillip Hubbell I can so relate to your statement, "I am afraid that my style of writing isn’t in any way like I speak."

#15 @Phil Friedman, I have frequently read the advice that you should write at a 5th-grade level, especially on the Internet because most readers have not advanced beyond that point (sad). But I just can't bring myself to do it! I've installed one of those SEO plugins on my website, and it frequently admonishes me for writing at too advanced of a level - I ignore it. However, when a human proofreader to says "um, what the hell are you trying to say here?" it's time to reevaluate some of my, shall we say, artistic choices.

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Claire Cardwell 🐝 8/11/2016 · #26

#25 Too true @Phillip Hubbell practice is key, but if you don't have the talent and discipline it doesn't matter how hard you try, it just comes out as a stream of consciousness.....

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Phillip Hubbell 8/11/2016 · #25

Thank everyone for all the verbal traffic. I do agree with @Phil Friedman that in order to reach the widest audience the level of discourse has to be reduced. My father in law, who was a Lutheran Minister used to tell me that in order to reach people, speak slowly, use small words and focus on simple. I'm terrible at that. My purpose for writing this had to do with trying to teach writing. I think you can teach writers to write better but I think trying to teach people who never written anything to write doesn't works so well. Goes back to my Creative Writing course in High School. People took it who had no aptitude or organization in their thoughts thinking it was an easy A....they were wrong.. If started writing little ditties as a child and got better with practice, practice, practice...kind of like playing the piano by ear. Piano players can learn music but people who learn music without musicality don't usually become piano players.

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Pascal Derrien 🐝 8/11/2016 · #24

I am with you here Philipp :-) the first article about writing that I can understand :-) actually I have not read the others .... :-)

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Aurorasa Sima 8/11/2016 · #21

#18 You´re on top of my favorite writers list too @Phillip Hubbell

Yeah, Ben, thank you, happy you already enjoy the training even though you just started.

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