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August 07, 2005

Catching up

The Sunday Writer's Workshop will continue next week, with a submission from Wallace Stegner. In the meantime, you might - if you missed it two weeks ago - check out the Barbara Kingsolver entry from last time.

In fact, blogging at alll is likely to be light for the next couple days, as we launch into a kitchen remodel - and I suspect time to spend at the computer will be hard-won. But at some point in the next week I'll be posting a short review of Tiltboys, a delightful short book by my pal Kim Scheinberg, seen here in a snapshot taken at church camp. I've also figured out something about the next chapter of Harquahala, so look for that soon, and a subsequent chapter, which though fully formed has been waiting patiently for its predecessor to get out of the way so that it can find its way home, like a dead mouse floating in a stopped-up toilet.

Which reminds me, Teresa Nielsen-Hayden says pretty much what I've always thought about the Bulwer-Lytton awards. Most of the winners are too clever by half, obviously written by passable writers straining for what they consider to be mediocrity. Groaning puns do not abysmal writing make.

Anyone who has been an editor for any length of time can trot out half a dozen much worse passages on command. Here's my longtime favorite, an ending paragraph rather than an opening line, written a decade ago by an author whose other good, non-writing work I do not wish to tarnish by identifying him here:

With the Mexican army going onto "Red Alert" at the edge of a second guerrilla front in Guerrero this Summer, and the stresses in Mexican society straining toward the breaking point, U.S. military involvement in Mexico is sliding down a darkening slope with the fires of deepening conflict, but no daylight, at the end of the tunnel. This Fall may represent the last chance to re-evaluate and change course before the momentum of escalation spins out of control.

Where'd I put that Dramamine?

A fine young writer-in-training applying for an internship sent along a clip which contained this uncharacteristically clunky passage, most of the blame for which goes to the person being quoted:

Perhaps former Vice President Al Gore said it best when he stated, "Unfortunately we have also seen over the last few years a decision on the part of the Bush White House to withdraw from the global process by which this crisis is being confronted. President Bush has instead directed the nation's attention and resources toward false crises while refusing to acknowledge a real crisis that is unfolding right before our eyes."

I still don't know why that man didn't win.

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Comments

I know what you mean. Years of judging writing contests have given me ample material as well.

On the other hand, when I scored 5th graders writing samples for a national testing company, I came across some real gems.

Posted by: KathyF at August 8, 2005 05:09 AM
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it was a dark and stormy night when we began our kitchen remodel...........

do you really think you're going to finish a kitchen remodel in a couple of days? more power to ya if it happens that way.

does al have a chance in 2008?

Posted by: dread pirate roberts at August 8, 2005 08:42 AM
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do you really think you're going to finish a kitchen remodel in a couple of days

Oh, god no. It'll take that long to do the demolition. That's just how long it is until I get a chance to do some sustained writing.

Posted by: Chris Clarke at August 8, 2005 10:08 AM
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