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20th October 2014

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Try to preserve an author’s style if he is an author and has a style.
— Wolcott Gibbs

Tagged: writingeditingbooksstylewriting styleWolcott Gibbs

19th October 2014

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Katherine Anne Porter on style

I’ve been called a stylist until I really could tear my hair out. And I simply don’t believe in style. The style is you. Oh, you can cultivate a style, I suppose, if you like. But I should say it remains a cultivated style. It remains artificial and imposed, and I don’t think it deceives anyone. A cultivated style would be like a mask. Everybody knows it’s a mask, and sooner or later you must show yourself—or at least, you show yourself as someone who could not afford to show himself, and so created something to hide behind. Style is the man. Aristotle said it first, as far as I know, and everybody has said it since, because it is one of those unarguable truths. You do not create a style. You work, and develop yourself; your style is an emanation from your own being.

—Katherine Anne Porter, The Art of Fiction no. 29,Paris Review

Tagged: writingliteraturewriting styleParis ReviewbooksKatherine Anne Porterstyle

16th October 2014

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If he loved her

He tried to think how much he loved her or if her loved her. He could hear her breathing but he could also hear the rain. They lay like this.

She said, “If you don’t want to, it’s all right.”

"It’s not that," he said, not knowing what he meant.

Raymond Carver, ‘The Ducks’, from Would You Please Be Quiet, Please?

Tagged: bookswritingdialoguerelationshipsAmerican literatureRaymond Carver

20th September 2014

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The trees are different trees

We are no longer in the forest but in an enclosed garden surrounded by a stone wall and the trees are different trees. I do not know them. There are steps leading upwards. It is too dark to see the wall or the steps, but I know they are there and I think, ‘It will be when I go up these steps. At the top.’ I stumble over my dress and cannot get up. I touch a tree and my arms hold on to it. ‘Here, here.’ But I think I will not go any further.

Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea (1966)

Tagged: bookswritingliteraturetreesalienationJean Rhys

16th September 2014

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Feet that feel the sway of it

I stand there. Eyes mist to the wind feel the fresh rush past. Up my nose. That sting. That new day it’s so early in the morning. I see the white and clear. Rising up of the waters. Running round my feet. My gravel feet. My earthbound feet that feel the sway of it. Water. Of the world that’s changing now no changed. It’s changed and this is looking back. The past a flash front.

Eimear McBride, A Girl is a Half-formed Thing (2013)

Tagged: bookswritingwaterliteratureIrish literatureEimear McBride

3rd September 2014

Photo reblogged from so long as it's words with 2,434 notes

solongasitswords:

allthingslinguistic:

Writing Skills: XKCD is on point about language again.
Here’s a study from this year on kids who use abbreviations while texting, and here’s a summary of previous studies: 

The first study, published in 2008, showed that 11 and 12-year-olds in Britain who used more textisms — whether misspelled words (“ppl,” instead of “people”), grammatically incorrect substitutions (“2” for “to” or “too”), wrong verb forms (“he do” instead of “he does”), or missing punctuation — compared to properly written words tended to have slightly better scores on standardized grammar and writing tests and had better spelling, after controlling for test scores in other subjects and other factors. A 2009 study, conducted by some of the same researchers on 88 kids between 10 and 12 years old, found similar associations between high textism use and slightly better reading ability.

Hovertext from the xkcd comic: I’d like to find a corpus of writing from children in a non-self-selected sample (e.g. handwritten letters to the president from everyone in the same teacher’s 7th grade class every year)—and score the kids today versus the kids 20 years ago on various objective measures of writing quality. I’ve heard the idea that exposure to all this amateur peer practice is hurting us, but I’d bet on the generation that conducts the bulk of their social lives via the written word over the generation that occasionally wrote book reports and letters to grandma once a year, any day.

Once again we find that texting is not ruining language! Huzzah!

Though I sympathise with the gist of the cartoon, its message is confused: it conflates great writing with high scores in grammar or spelling tests – which begs the question – and it also mixes up frequency of texting with the use of txtspk.

solongasitswords:

allthingslinguistic:

Writing Skills: XKCD is on point about language again.

Here’s a study from this year on kids who use abbreviations while texting, and here’s a summary of previous studies: 

The first study, published in 2008, showed that 11 and 12-year-olds in Britain who used more textisms — whether misspelled words (“ppl,” instead of “people”), grammatically incorrect substitutions (“2” for “to” or “too”), wrong verb forms (“he do” instead of “he does”), or missing punctuation — compared to properly written words tended to have slightly better scores on standardized grammar and writing tests and had better spelling, after controlling for test scores in other subjects and other factors. A 2009 study, conducted by some of the same researchers on 88 kids between 10 and 12 years old, found similar associations between high textism use and slightly better reading ability.

Hovertext from the xkcd comic: I’d like to find a corpus of writing from children in a non-self-selected sample (e.g. handwritten letters to the president from everyone in the same teacher’s 7th grade class every year)—and score the kids today versus the kids 20 years ago on various objective measures of writing quality. I’ve heard the idea that exposure to all this amateur peer practice is hurting us, but I’d bet on the generation that conducts the bulk of their social lives via the written word over the generation that occasionally wrote book reports and letters to grandma once a year, any day.

Once again we find that texting is not ruining language! Huzzah!

Though I sympathise with the gist of the cartoon, its message is confused: it conflates great writing with high scores in grammar or spelling tests – which begs the question – and it also mixes up frequency of texting with the use of txtspk.

Tagged: cartoonsxkcdtextinglanguagewritinggrammartxtspk

Source: allthingslinguistic

19th August 2014

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Too beautiful to be examined

I remain a student of history, more of one than ever, now that our century has torn its way out of its chrysalis and become too beautiful to be examined, too alive to be debated and exploited by played-out intellectuals. The important thing is no longer to predict in what way its grand convulsions might next shake us. Now the important thing is to ride it into the sky.

Denis Johnson, The Name of the World (2000)

Tagged: bookswritinghistoryliteratureDenis Johnson

18th August 2014

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She had a funny way at the ends of her sentences. Rather than a pause, she created a plunge.
— Denis Johnson, The Name of the World (2000)

Tagged: bookswritingspeechlanguageliteratureDenis Johnson

15th August 2014

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Unrequited passions

One of the advantages of unrequited passions, I find, is that there is no need to worry about infidelity.

One can fall in love with a new person every day and hurt no one except oneself.

No recriminations, no sulking, no painful divorce.

I was an old hand.

Lucy Ellmann, Varying Degrees of Hopelessness (1991)

Tagged: bookswritinghumourlovefeelsLucy Ellmann

22nd July 2014

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The serial enigma of the dark

Evil is even, truth is an odd number and death is a full stop. When a dog barks late at night and then retires again to bed, he punctuates and gives majesty to the serial enigma of the dark, laying it more evenly and heavily upon the fabric of the mind. Sweeny in the trees hears the sad baying as he sits listening on the branch, a huddle between the earth and heaven; and he hears also the answering mastiff that is counting the watches in the next parish. Bark answers bark till the call spreads like fire through all Erin. Soon the moon comes forth from behind her curtains riding full tilt across the sky, lightsome and unperturbed in her immemorial calm. The eyes of the mad king upon the branch are upturned, whiter eyeballs in a white face, upturned in fear and supplication. His mind is but a shell.

Flann O’Brien, At Swim-Two-Birds (1939)

Tagged: bookswritingliteraturemoonnightdogsIrelandIrish mythologyIrish literatureFlann O'Brien