Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Writing

I'm not a published writer nor do I have aspirations to be one. I enjoy blogging, but as truth be known, blogging "is" writing.

Hanging out with writers is interesting and I pick up a few writing tid-bits now and then. I don't participate in writer's workshops and although I read my writerly friends posts, I mostly don't know what the heck they are talking about.

I've been using the same handbook (published in 1939) as my writing source for 72 years. It's the one on top ...... Plain English Handbook. It's yellowed, weary and worn. The rules still apply but some of the phrases are archaic. I think.

Finally, after 72 years, it was time for an update and I bought "The Chicago Manual of Style." This is a big thick book and I was really going to get smart. Wrong.

I didn't understand most of it and it was sooo heavy, I had to take a nap after I carried it around for a while.

I went back to my frayed "Plain English Handbook."
It was a dear old friend, revisited with love.

But then, as if by timed magic, a blogging friend, JJ Botta, published a compact book, "7 Writing Tricks for the Clueless." It's directed at adults who can improve their writing skills with 7 writing tricks.

I love this little book. I was reminded of skills I once knew but had become careless with them throughout the years.

I will pay attention to what JJ writes because his posts serve as testimonials to easy reading. What a post-reading blessing it is to read his posts "once" and get the message. Have you ever read a post through 3 times and still wondered what the point was? These are the writers who could benefit from JJ's book.

I added JJ's book, 7 Writing Tricks for the Clueless to my flaking but spunky, Plain English Handbook and together they weigh 1/4 of the Chicago Style Manual and I can carry both around all day without having to take a nap. Good Deal.
Thanks JJ. It's a great little book.


  1. Well, kudos to you for wanting to learn how to write better, not that anything was wrong with your writing, but it's good to want to improve. I am afraid that I am too lazy to do so. lol.

  2. My mother always told me, "Great things come in small packages." Of course she was referring to a small x-mas package that I just knew did not hold the large erector set I wanted. :)
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

  3. I say hoorrah for the Plain English Handbook!

    Take care

  4. This sounds such a good book! I'm trying to write a blog post everyday for a month, as practice !! Hard work but giving it a go xx

  5. haha what happens when you are just a rhyming nut and there is no point?..haha....I do find though, just with anything, the more one writes the better they do get, especially if they are willing to learn and take comments.

  6. Love the idea of only 7 rules. Think I will check it out. Maybe it can help me with my wordiness.

  7. Always learning...that's our Manzanita. And a whole new way to judge the usefulness of a book; not needing a nap when you carry it around.

  8. You may not think you are a writer, but I KNOW YOU ARE!!!

    You amaze me with your writing skills and you humor.... LoL had to laugh at you getting tired carring the book around.

    Have a great day Manzy!!

  9. You can't have meant to type 72 years. Was that a typo?

  10. Yes, my dear. Blogging is writing. And what a wonderful tribute to JJ.

    I love your blog, Manza. I really do. And I'd love to flip through your 'Plain English Handbook.' Nothing like a book that feels like an old friend, really-- the more archaic, the better.

  11. Gigi, I like learning and I should have been working on my writing before this. You are not lazy by any imagination.... you are just plain busy.

    Jules : Ha.... you wanted an erector set for Christmas? Hope you eventually got it. If not, every present you open will still hopefully be the missing erector set. :)

    Dear Kitty : That's 2 hoorrahs. Add mine too.

    Jilly Jolly : Writing a post every day is hard work.... at least it was for me. I only did it for the month of the A-Z challenge. Good luck. I do think it makes the writing more fluid.

    Pat : Limericks and rhymes are different. They are meant to make one smile and chuckle. That's the main point. Your limericks are excellent and they do make me laugh.

    Patti : One of JJ's seven is "keep it simple." Read his blog. He always says so much in a short post. But your writing is humorous and when one is laughing, one doesn't notice the length.

    Delores : I never knew how funny I am until I read it through your eyes. Ha You always make me laugh. Thanks.

    Terry : Thanks. You are always so sweet. And Natural Health people, like us, need our energy for more important things, like running the juicer, or sewing those cute aprons. Love to you.

  12. i'm so glad you admitted to not 'getting' some writerly posts. i'm a terrible flunky when it comes to poetry - i just want to run from the room screaming sometimes after reading someone's post. just give my tired brain a pretty photo and i'm fine. :)

  13. Dear Manzanita, I so admire you for continuing to be passionate about learning. I've tried to do that all my life also and it makes for wonderful discoveries.

    The Chicago Manual is really the "Bible" of the publishing industry but it's index is not helpful at all. I've used it for 40 years and still have to hunt and hunt and hunt for something when I'm working on a copyediting project for a client.

    I say, "Go with what speaks most clearly to you." I'm going to see if I can find "7 Writing Tricks" so as to sharpen my writing.

    Finally, I want to assure you that your writing is "fine and dandy, like sugar candy!" but we can always improve our craft, and the trying to do so is the journey that makes life enjoyable.

  14. Some of we like your writing just as it are. It couldn't get any betterer. (From fishducky's ENGLISH AS IT SHOULD BE SPOKEN HANDBOOK)

  15. I do live the Chicago Manual of Style... or, in the UK, Cambridge. I'm funny like that! :)

  16. Good for you!! I never followed proper English writing rules. Basic grammar and spelling is where my literature education ends. That's great that you are educating yourself. (Applause!!)

  17. That sounds like a book I ought to pick up. My favorite style book is The Elements of Style. Almost the size of a big slim sandwich. I am impressed that you bought The Chicago Manual of Style. I only open it up when I need to know something specific.

  18. Good thing you never picked up "The New Jersey Guide to Writing."
    Singular: You
    Plural: Youse
    Ah fuggedaboudit!

  19. Enjoyed visiting and the book suggestions. I am definitely not a writer, but the blog world is full of excellent ones. You do just fine.

  20. Enjoyed reading this post, the 7 tricks sounds interesting.
    Your writing is just fine. I always loved the writing style of Damon Runyan. One story was about a burglar who couldn't get a babysitter and took the kid with him on the job.

  21. I've recently become very friendly with my best friend's brother who's a writer and publisher. Occasionally, I'll pick his brain or he'll casually point out little errors in my post. When he posts on his blog, I carefully read and watch what phrases he uses and how he uses them.

    He's my manual.

    I bet he weighs more than all three of your books together! I hate carrying him around though. :-)

  22. Plain English is certainly a lot easier to read than fancified intellectual stuff. Why use long words and extra phrases unnecessarily, when simplicity is quicker and more easily understood?
    Perhaps those posts are all written by wanna-be-lawyers?

  23. You're so right: blogging is writing. I've only been blogging for 13,5 months (but who's counting =) ) and already I cringe when I read my older posts.

    It's good, though, it shows I've learnt a lot, and still learning.

    (and let me chime in with: I love your 'Plain English Handbook'. Does it have pictures?) :-)

  24. What fun, dear Manzi, you have written on what I am currently striving to do - improve my English writing! I like the language and want to deepen my knowledge!
    These books sound great!

    Yeah, bigger is not always better;)Though I think, I am also keen on big books!:)
    Take care,

  25. I love your writing. Don't work on your 'style' because you hear about other bloggers working on 'style'. If that's what you really want to do then great but for me, I love your blog written just the way it is.

  26. There's nothing wrong with your writing Manzanita, as all your Followers will testify! I did smile when you said that you were tired after carrying that heavy book around!! I might just have a peek at that one you have recommended though. I must be lucky, because I can always understand the blog posts that I follow. Perhaps it's because we are such simple souls!!! I love it how you are still anxious to learn though.

  27. Karen : No typo...... dang.

    Suze : Plain English Handbook's cover is totally off.... just stuck inside the book..... and it's so old that every time I open the pages, little pieces of yellowed paper fly around the room.

    Texwisgirl : Poetry is not my thing either. At one time, during my "stormy years" I was writing poetry and took a lot of courses while in school. I'm glad I have that in my background but I much prefer prose.

    Dee : You are so right. I'd love to study the Chicago Manual of Style but I don't really need it. I also have that small book of the "elements of style." I'm trying to learn some more languages..... my Spanish is terrible and one of my best friends is from Panama and wants to get serious with our lessons but we end up doing something else. I started tapping again.... just me and in my studio alone. I'm not very good at it but it's so much fun. I have countless books on my kindle that I want to read. I never have time to spend with my family.... usually it's the Granny complaining that the family doesn't visit her. I'm having thanksgiving dinner at my house so I'll see them all then. But, this is my personality and I can't sit and do nothing. Love to you.

    Fran : Hey, I love that. Fishducky's own handbook. I can hear all the quacky words. Are your gourmet cooking kids cooking your Thanksgiving dinner?

    Talli : Oh I love the Chicago style manual too.... but I don't really need all that information just now so it was written with tongue in cheek.

    Little Miss Fun : Thanks for the great comment. I like yoour style already. I'll be by to visit you.

    Su-siee : I know you would have a use for the Chicago one. I don't need it now. I had written a boring book that I now destroyed and I had wanted it for that. I have the elements of style too but I still prefer my 72 year old English handbook. I know that one by heart. Every word, so now all I have to do is apply it. Did you know that although we still dangle a participle and all that, terms have changed and the methods they teach has changed. And you know what they say about old dogs.... Ha. Love ya.

  28. Al : Funny guy. Did you ever see the movie, "My Cousin Vinny?" (You most likely have) When Vinny was in court and saying "2 yoots." for 2 youths. That is a movie I now drag out when I need a good laugh.

    LV : Thanks, LV. So do you. Love your writing. You write from the heart.

    Anthony : Ha Ha... Loved that about the burglar. No, I hadn't read that. We all have our writing style and I think the important thing is to write from the heart. I love your posts with your human interest stories and then your favorite recipes. It flows together so nicely.

    Irene : Hang on to that best friend's brother. He's better than a Chicago Manual any day. I can picture you carrying him around all day, like a suitcase. Ha

    River : You hit the nail square on. That is why I like your writing. It comes from the heart, first of all and you don't grope for a large word. As a reader, one can always tell when a writer has searched for the "big" word. Your posts are so nice and easy to read.

  29. K.C. : You are a good writer and I'll add that all the bloggers are excellent writers. The post was written mostly with tongue in cheek but I would like to make improvements on my writing. As you said, on looking back on your old posts.. grrr.
    No pictures in the old Plain English Handbook..... unless you count the doodling I did on the front (torn-off) cover. Ha

    Zara : Your English writing is excellent. I had always thought you were English or it was your native language. I remember you said you liked bigger books when I mentioned Forever Amber. I just finished that book, by the way. All 747 (? forgot exactly).

    Rosalind : Thanks so much for the encouraging comment. I just want my writing not to scream out "Hey, I'm an old person, so I don't write very well." As we age, we all seem to kinda fall into that category. This was written with tongue in cheek mostly and I was an English major for a long time. But writing styles change and the teaching methods have changed. Everything changes except my clothes closet. My granddaughter who has the band, just had an interview in the paper and she said she wears her Grandmother's "vintage" clothes. She got that name right. :)

    Thisisme : I think the bloggie friends are the greatest writers. I often feel my style is "old fashioned." I've only found a couple posts that I couldn't decipher. It was most likely my lack of knowledge on their subject.
    Take care and love.

  30. Thanks for the recommendation. 7 sounds very manageable and I should look into it as I don't use style books. But then I write as my dog, Samson, half the time, so maybe I will be excused for my (our) mistakes.

  31. Sounds like a great deal! I think sometimes we have too much info that we overwhelm ourselves and we are worse off :)

  32. Could be a dandy, handy little book to have.
    I just post "my thoughts" as they come, not thinking too much of my writing skill (or lack thereof)

    It is amazing to me how many bloggers I follow...who actually WRITE books and stuff..poems...
    Waaaaay beyond my abilities.

    I'll just blog, and blunder along the way I guess.

    (and yes, on the fencing post I did...I also have driven the tractor with the post pounder, so hubby can place them then we move to the next one)

  33. It's a lovely post, thanks for sharing! I also am not a writer but enjoy blogging and meeting people!

  34. Funny how school textbooks come in handy sometimes!! I'd be selling that Chicago Style Guide on eBay - if anyone'll buy it after reading your post!!!

    Have a great week!

  35. A great post. The Plain English textbook has another vote!

  36. Manzi, you already are a writer! Not because you have this gorgeous blog, but you already work your sentences to get from Here to There. Your grammar's perfect! You know how to toss in a smile that warms the reader. Stick with your tried and true. It ain't broke; don't fix it.

    Sorry I haven't been by - I made the mistake of believing the hype that self-pubbing was easy. HA! Without Rachel, it wouldn't have happened. This self-pubbing arena is the Wild West - without Wyatt Earp!

  37. Sometimes it's hard to improve on a good thing. Kinda like vanilla ice cream :-)

  38. I agree that blogging is also writing. I do want to write a book at some point, but I keep on blogging my time away instead. Maybe some day...

    Hope you've been great!

  39. Inger : When we write in "dogspeak" I think anything goes. :)

    Josh : Nice to hear from you and thanks for the comment.

    Wendy : They always say writer's should write every day. I guess that is why so many writers blog. Good practice. Two Post hole pounders. Ha

    Romance Reader : There would be no writers without the readers. Ha

    Red : I would but it's probably too heavy to mail. :)

  40. Nas : Thanks ....if I had your knowledge, I wouldn't have to keep searching and studying. :)

    Kitty : I believe in you and your persistence. I do know a little about the perils of self-publishing. A while back, Marilyn and I wrote a not-very-good ms. together. After wasting months of researching self-publishing, we decided the audience for our book of flamenco was most likely non-existent, anyway so we deleted the whole mess and took up making videos. After viewing the first one, we also chucked that and went back to hula hooping. Your book is worthy of the effort, my dear. Continue on and best of luck.

  41. Ron : You got that right. The word vanilla always sounds so bland but how much excitement can we stand in one day. Bring on the vanilla ice cream. :)

    Amberr : Sometimes blogging takes up all my time, too and I wonder how the published writers do it, write their books and also take care of a sensational blog with hundreds of followers.

  42. I do admit there's a few bloggers that I have to concentrate to read and often times have to leave because I have too many to try to keep up with.

    Good for you to work on improving. It's always a challenge for me.

  43. I read a book a while back called Stein on Writing that was a really good book and gave examples of things one can do to make their work more compelling.

  44. Hi Manzanita .. I have a few books here - but my English ended at school .. and I was never considered very good. I probably need to go on a course - where at least I have to participate and I hope learn. Though my style is my style ..

    I popped over to JJ's site and joined etc .. thanks ..

    Interesting to read about your tomes! Something at some stage I need to get to grips with .. cheers Hilary