The best is often not enough, and the lousy you can zap

The Best Writing on Writing is a book edited by Jack Heffron.  It is a collection of pointers on how to write. One is by Donald Murray, “Letter to a Young Article Writer” (at The Writer). This piece has a gem of an idea.

The idea is simple.  In essence, Murray says that a writer should just go ahead and write what it is he wants to say.  However, that something is probably “not enough.”  But in the course of writing, you may stumble onto something else that makes the work more than “one something,” or something that is “one and a half.”  When you have that one and a half, you have something worth publishing.

In fact, Murray indirectly quoted an unnamed colleague of John Jerome (The Writing Trade: A Year in the Life, Viking, 1992).  According to Murray, that colleague reportedly said that “a 600-word essay needs about an idea and a half.”

Murray gives as practical advice that writers should write “with velocity so that I am thinking on paper, saying what I do not expect to say” (emphasis added).  It is that thing you did not expect to say that could become the missing “one half” of an idea.  With velocity makes sense because unless you can tap it out fast on the keyboard – something you can’t do on Apple’s IPad –  that Kodak moment of discovery goes pffft.

(Attention: Steve Jobs – When you release a new version of IPad, have a keyboard that allows “hyperfast” typing.  Then that IPad will truly fly.  But I imagine some geek will come up with a wireless keyboard that can do the trick, and whose output shows up on a Kindle that becomes not just a reader but also a writer’s tool.  Let the techie competition begin.)

But what if you start with one idea, and end up with 3 more halves?  You then have the beginning of a cashew snack.  Now, go and get some San Mig light and enjoy it while watching that silly stuff on cable TV.  My greatest enjoyment is switching channels when some totally inadequate tiresome wannabe shows up.  When will the networks learn how to fire the incompetents?

Disclaimer:  This is an essay with one and two halves of ideas.  Perhaps it’s overload, so I apologize.


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