Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Confidential to the Stealth Mailer

Oh, I got your post card all right.

Funny! And all the more funny since I have family in that particular state, which gave me a waft of cognitive dissidence. My wife caught on immediately, of course: "Oh, it's probably one of your typewriter friends." Indeed.

Well played, mysterious mailer, well played.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Drive-Thru Book Review: No Hooptedoodle Allowed

Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing
by Elmore Leonard
ISBN: 978-0-06-145146-1

Originally published in the New York Times nine years ago today, I have come across used copies of this book for sale, and finally checked out a copy at the library yesterday as part of my Summer of Book-Learnin'. Despite the heft, this is clearly a gift book, meant to be left out and admired and flicked through, with humorous illustrations of the author or the authors he talks about. I wouldn't pay the $15 this book originally cost, especially when you can just read the essay online for free. Bounce on back to that first link in this paragraph to see it, sans illustrations. Go on. I'll wait.

Back already? Yes, it's a quick read. I zipped through the whole thing over breakfast, and that's before I was fully awake. But that doesn't make the contained advice any less worthwhile. Leonard's rules are simple and b.s.-free, much like his writing, and are a refined distillation of the same advice I've read and re-read over much of this summer. I wish I'd found this last fall, in fact: the advice would surely have spared my draft the many adverbial indignities I heaped upon it, and soothed the nagging doubt I had that you need only say "said" in dialog, and nothing more. I may keep a copy of the essay by the typewriter this November, just in case.

I say: read the essay online and spend the $15 on typewriter ribbons.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

No Excuses

The proof copy has arrived and I've broken out the Big Editing Guns for this one:

Time to Edit

At present, there are two digital copies floating around in the hands of early readers, and one paper copy (pictured) in the hands of my wife. She promises to not divorce me, despite the flat, listless prose, the horrifying lack of proper punctuation, and the abrupt ending. I've devoted a couple of hours (!) just reworking the introduction, which I find sluggish and dull. Not looking good for the other hundred-some pages.

All the same: I feel a surprising lightness in my chest just seeing my name on the hurriedly-composed cover. ("Crap! I need a subtitle? Um... OK.") It could be angina, but I have a sneaking feeling that it's pride. I'm not too proud to break out the clippers and duct-tape, though. No excuses for not seeing this through.