Tolkien, artist

A Day of Remembrance and Words of Writing Wisdom

Today is many things, but at the top of that list are three.





It is a unique day - shortened in our shorthand of date writing to six identical digits in a row, i.e. 11-11-11. This is something that happens extremely rarely - in fact it won't happen again until 12-12-12 and then it will be another century before it occurs again. One more reason to think about today as being one-of-a-kind.



Of course it is also Veteran's Day (Remembrance Day in the UK). On November 11th 1918, bells rang out throughout the world celebrating the end of hostilities in World War I, the first industrialized war. It was hoped that it would be the last major war ever. That was a false hope. There is something within mankind that seems unable to live peacefully with others. I see that as the major tragedy of our race.



And it is also the birthday of Kurt Vonnegut. Now, you may ask, "Why should I care? Author's birthdates populate the calendar - why is he so important?" Although I love his writings, it is what he said about writing that causes me to put him here in my blog for the day. As said in "The Writer's Almanac": In 1999, Vonnegut wrote a piece called "How To Write With Style." He ended his essay by summing up his seven most important points: Find a subject you care about; do not ramble, though; keep it simple; have guts to cut; sound like yourself; say what you mean; and pity the readers. He wrote: "I myself grew up in Indianapolis, where common speech sounds like a band saw cutting galvanized tin, and employs a vocabulary as unornamental as a monkey wrench. In some of the more remote hollows of Appalachia, children still grow up hearing songs and locutions of Elizabethan times. Yes, and many Americans grow up hearing a language other than English, or an English dialect a majority of Americans cannot understand. All these varieties of speech are beautiful, just as the varieties of butterflies are beautiful. No matter what your first language, you should treasure it all your life. If it happens to not be standard English, and if it shows itself when your write standard English, the result is usually delightful, like a very pretty girl with one eye that is green and one that is blue. I myself find that I trust my own writing most, and others seem to trust it most, too, when I sound most like a person from Indianapolis, which is what I am. What alternatives do I have? The one most vehemently recommended by teachers has no doubt been pressed on you, as well: to write like cultivated Englishmen of a century or more ago."
I like Kurt Vonnegut's books - my school library ordered them in when I asked them too and I could not put them down.
He was a pretty amazing author and quite the personality. I love his seven points of writing though. I always try to beta with that basic thought in mind - it's not me who is the author, so I have to allow the author's individual voice to come through.

- Erulisse (one L)