writers on writing

Mike Duran over at deCOMPOSE, on of my perennially favourite writing blogs, and submitted for our perusal a list of the ten ‘best’ writing blog posts of 2010. It’s an impressive list, from which I may have caught one or two while they were still ‘fresh’ at their blogs, and I’m looking forward the trawling through them when the holidays begin and I can breath again.

Of course, the list isn’t complete, since it—ahem—makes no mention of Paradoxes’ own blogalectic with Jenna St. Hilaire, which I beg to point out are immensely practical articles on writing, even if not self-evidently so, or in the way you’d expect.

Not that I expect to see my posts on the Top 10 anything list. At the moment, I’d be happy with the Top Million.

So, not wishing to subvert Mike Duran’s admirable and excellent list (with omission, hem hem) I wanted to add a few of my own picks from the Top Millions—a smattering of posts I’ve found this year to be immensely helpful for writing and such (omitting the blogalectic, ahem, because I don’t want to draw attention to myself). In no particular order:

  • Craft & Creativity, Mike Duran. Hey, credit where it’s due, and this is a great piece.
    Good writing requires both a drawing board and a Jacuzzi.’
  • Fairy Tale Reflections, Katherine Langrish. First in an ongoing series that has been nothing short of a heady inspiration trip.
    I remember telling [“The Juniper Tree”] aloud in a school hall in upstate New York to about an hundred and fifty ten-year olds. […] When I’d finished, you could feel all the children relaxing.  They’d trusted me to lead them through a very dark place, but we’d come out into the light.
  • A student reads this blog?, John McIntyre. Advice on how to be an editor from the Master of the Craft.
    Be courteous and professional to all the writers, no matter how inept and wilful they may be. This will build character. Soon you will find that you have as much character as you can support without assistance.
  • No, no, no, no, no, John McIntyre. Because it’s impossible to choose just one…
    Adopting once more my more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger tone, I remind you that there is absolutely nothing wrong with splitting infinitives or ending sentences with prepositions, that both are arrant superstitions with no foundation in the idiomatic usages of the language.
  • How Does ‘Ring Composition’ Work, Anyway? John Granger. The Hogwarts Professor on the theory and practice of an elaborately structured plot—invaluable, since, I believe, a writer should also be a critic. A brilliant article.
    If we revert from the conventional and  empiricist conception of ourselves as organic chemistry body-bags with various ‘systems’ or from our “ghost in the machine” embodied-soul ideas we learned in Sunday School classes (if we were lucky) to a traditional picture of ourselves primarily as ‘heart’ or nous, we have a much better chance of getting how Ring Composition works.
  • Knowing What’s Most Important, Jerry Jenkins. I could post a whole list of links from this site—Wednesday’s Writing on Writing regularly features treasures like The 8 Basic Fiction Blunders series, and the literally life-altering advice that Timing is Everything. But one of the first things that impresses you about Jerry Jenkins, aside from the radiant sincerity of his faith, is how deeply and obviously he loves his wife, children, and grandchildren—and how much that’s defined his career. This post captures that beautifully.
    I would not have missed my three sons’ growing up years for anything.
    I prayed with them, played with them, sat with them, watched them, listened to them, put them to bed every night. It was a ritual. Dianna had them all day; I had them once I got home.
  • Misunderstood, and For Writers: When Help is Hard to Take, Carol Fisher Saller
    A two-part series which together may constitute the single best article on writing and editing I’ve read all year.
    Do you ever wake up peppy and bounce out of bed Tiggerlike, skip the coffee, dig in the back of the closet for that kicky little skirt, brush your teeth a bit too enthusiastically and splat a glop of toothpaste down the front of the kicky skirt (just as well, since it was, after all, in the back of the closet for a reason), swap it for the clean, more matronly skirt, drag in to the office feeling suddenly elderly, with the start of a caffeine headache—and open a manuscript returned by a writer and find that she is not at all happy and has put “stet” all over your editing because she has completely misunderstood you?
    Me too.
  • One Dares Call It Conspiracy, Michael Fry. OK, so this has nothing to do with writing, but it’s a heck of a lot of fun.
    So, Santa Claus and Baby Jesus aren’t related?

I need to stop, I keep thinking of more. And I haven’t even mentioned Neil Gaiman yet. Oh dear…

That’s my list—what’s yours?

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