Sunday, March 8, 2009


"An Itty Bitty Column on Writing" by Mindy Phillips Lawrence
From Sharing with Writers (Carolyn Howard-Johnson)
March 8, 2009

Let’s learn a little about essays today. No, not those staid old things we read in Eighteenth Century anthologies in college or that some English teacher assigned us. Let’s think about the modern essay.

Several well-known modern writers have excelled at essay writing. Among them are Virginia Woolf, George Orwell, E. B. White, James Baldwin, Joan Didion, James McConkey, Cynthia Ozick, Alice Walker, Philip Levine and John Updike. They used the form to say something poignant and to get a point across.

In school we learned essay writing as a strict five-part form that I advocate you learn and then bend as you wish. I’ve given you links to the basics at the end of this article. I’ve also given you links to present-day essayists so you can see what they have to say and how they went about saying it.

So what can you say with an essay? Almost anything. Here are some examples:

· A significant experience in your life
· An epiphany you had
· What you want to do in the last ten years of your life

· The influence of the Internet, good or bad?
· National health care: for or against?
· Does the war on terrorism have an end?

· Neil Sedaka, “The Immigrant” and how things have changed
· The influence of Irish music on Bluegrass
· The real history of the Suffragettes

So see? You can go fancy-schmancy with your topics or write an essay about why you like tulips instead of roses on Valentine’s Day. It’s all up to you.


ESSAYS – Wikipedia




John Updike, “On Not Being a Dove”

Alice Walker, “Alice Walker Reflects on Working Toward Peace”

Joan Didion, “Why I Write” (excerpt)

Presenting with the Best

"An Itty Bitty Column on Writing" by Mindy Phillips Lawrence
From Sharing with Writers (Carolyn Howard-Johnson)
March 8, 2009

I went to a writers’ workshop conducted by western author Dusty Richards, a guy with his 82nd book on its way. I learned something valuable. It doesn’t matter what genre you choose as a writer, there are means and methods of producing your work that will make it have a greater chance of success. I also learned how Dusty went over these writing methods using a PowerPoint presentation.

If you intend to speak about your work, why not learn to do a simple PowerPoint presentation on your topic and figure out how to hook up a computer projector to display it on a wall or screen for your audience? Now buying a projector might not be frugal, as Carolyn might point out, but renting one or seeing if the venue where you are speaking has one available IS very frugal.

I suggest you find a person who knows how to do this, take them out to lunch or dinner and take a notepad with you. Pump their minds for information and techniques. Then, after you’ve sucked out the proper stuff from their heads, offer some of YOUR knowledge back to them in exchange.

Maybe, as Rick said in Casablanca, it could be the “beginning of a beautiful [collaborative] friendship.”