Thursday, October 09, 2003

Reading About Writing, and Vice Versa

Recently I've found myself starting to read more about writing, and also being more aware of writing in general as writing, rather than as pure story or information. The most recent book on this subject for me is Style: Toward Clarity and Grace, which at first glance seems rather textbookish. And I suppose it is, though I think it could actually be quite interesting. It seems to be aimed not so much at teaching arbitrary grammar rules as at really getting to the concepts behind what makes writing good or bad, clear or unclear, and how to switch from one to the other. To me, that sounds rather intriguing. I'd really like to understand language better, and feel like I have better control over it. I think most of my writing ability now comes from what I've absorbed from so much reading over the years, but that's all subconscious and undependable. I'd like to feel like I've deliberately learned something about it as well. It's a pity I wasn't interested in all this when I was still taking English classes. I probably could have gotten a lot more out of freshman WCT if I had been.

This current interest probably just stems from the fact that writing is feeling like a fairly large part of my life right now. A ton of what I do at work is just writing. Granted, that's mostly just bite-sized bits rather than large tracts of prose, but it's challenging sometimes to find the clearest way to convey information. I'm also a lot more conscious of my blogging these days, and probably writing more here than I used to. So writing in general has just been a prominent subject in my awareness recently.

So far in this book, I've only read the introduction and a "Short History of Bad Writing," so I haven't really gotten into the meat of it yet. I liked the description of influences on English from other languages, though. The author took one of his own paragraphs from that chapter and rewrote it as it might have been, had the Normans not won the Battle of Hastings. Very interesting.

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