Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Topic: The Truth About Writing

10-second review: Quote: “When I decided to become a writer, I said goodbye to a successful management position with regular paychecks and hello to editorial whimsy and shoe boxes filled with rejection letters. I had no idea how difficult a writing life could be; I simply knew I loved to write.”

Summary: The author goes on to meet Bill Walsh, a writer from down the street, an ex-marine, not to be confused with “the copy desk chief of the Washington Post who authored Lapsing Into a Comma and The Elephants of Style, nor the NFL coach who led the San Francisco 49ers to three Super Bowl victories. This Bill Walsh was a writer who published articles that appeared in such diverse publications as Black Belt, Woman’s World and GRIT.”

Quote: “I…proudly produced my work-in-progress. He took my story and while I watched in horror, began marking it up. When he was done, the pages contained more red ink than type. I was flummoxed. I had expected praise. I had expected him to recognize my work for the masterpiece it was. I stewed for a couple of days before rereading the ink-scarred pages, intending to ridicule his suggestions. But the story was improved with his changes. Much improved.”

Quote: “My ego suffered on these early trips to Bill’s house, where counsel was frequently delivered with the force of a shotgun blast.”

Quote: “Bill never went to college, but he reads voraciously and is better educated than many college graduates.”

Quote: “We often discussed what I’d recently read. Sometimes we’d chat about plot, but usually we’d talk about the writing techniques employed.”

Quote: “He shepherded me through the finer points of a literary presentation—practice beforehand, use dramatic pauses, arrive early and ensure the reading area is set up properly…”

Quote: “Bill is sick now. Congestive heart failure keeps him bedridden for most of the time. Occasionally, he’ll have a good day, and I’ll visit. We still talk about books and writing, what’s going on in the world of publishing, and arcane of the English language. He still rants with vigor, but that tires him out so the length of our discussions is limited.”

Comment: The truth about writing. The mentor, Bill Walsh, made the difference. RayS.

Title: “Homage To My Mentor.” Bill Glose. The Writer (October 2009), 15-16.

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