Monday, March 15, 2010

Wisdom: The Book

I haven't yet read Andrew Zuckerman's book/media project "Wisdom" but I'm pretty intrigued by it. For the project, Zuckerman conducted interviews with some of the world's most recognizable and revered people1, asking them all essentially the same questions: what is wisdom? and what is your wisdom? The answers were compiled into this book, in order to gift the collected knowledge of one generation to the next.

The list of contributors includes politicians (Henry Kissinger, Madeleine Albright, Ted Kennedy), actors (Alan Arkin, Judi Dench), musicians (Willie Nelson, Bill Withers), authors (Chinua Achebe) and activists (Jane Goodall). All of the contributors are artfully presented by Zuckerman in portraits, sound clips, and their writings in the book, as well as in an art exhibit.

Exploring this project has led me to reflect on what my wisdom is, and how I am contributing to the collective knowledge base. Because of its educational focus and the interactions it facilitates, the Writing Center has been a good place for me to both gain and share wisdom. And writing in general, I think, functions in the same way: the transference of world experience and insight from one to another. I was always struck by the wisdom of good old Kurtey V. I wish he was still around for the making of this book. I think his additions to the conversation on human wisdom would be, well, wise.

So, my questions: What is your wisdom and how do you share it? and Whose wisdom do you seek out?

1 The website states that the contributors are "global" and "multicultural." The authors collected wisdom from a wide range of people, but I think it's worth considering that all of them are English speakers. Just sayin'.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Our Top Five Books For Spring Break 2010

All of us here at the Writing Center thought we might try to answer the dreaded question for anyone who loves reading: "What are your top five, favorite books?"

The resulting conversations, and the diversity of our choices, made us think we should share our compiled list as a possible reference for those of you who are unsure of what to pick up next.

It is also a way for to find out a little more about all of us here at the Writing Center.

Do you think you can guess who would have picked Freakonomics as one of their top five? What about the Bible? And just how many tutors love 1984?

Do you feel confident you know who has Bill O'Reilly as a top five author? What about the tutor who loves Tobias Wolff? Douglas Adams? Ayn Rand? Kurt Vonnegut? Rita Mae Brown? Jane Austen?

Curious? Check out our list by following the link below. It will take you to our resources page on our website and if you scroll to the bottom you will see "The Official Writing Center Reading List" ready to be downloaded. Have fun reading the list and the books we recommend.

Click here to check out the list.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Ten Rules for Writing Fiction

Ever wish you could ask an author exactly what they did to get where they are? Well, here's your chance to hear what they have to say. The Guardian, a UK newspaper, asked authors like Neil Gaiman and Margaret Atwood to come up with ten rules that every aspiring author should follow to write successfully. Although the article's focus is on fiction writers, that doesn't mean that the rules don't apply to any other type of writing!

My rules for writing are:

1. No internet while writing. Facebook is way too tempting!
2. Have a relaxing spot to sit in, but don't let it be in front of the TV.
3. When writing fiction, remember that the most important part of your story is the characters. Even if you have the best plot or the best writing, it won't matter if the characters are flat and lifeless.
4. When writing any kind of non-fiction, remember who your audience is. Your tone of voice is everything.
5. Edit after you've finished your first draft. Then read it aloud, edit, have someone else read it, edit again. Lather, rinse, repeat. Every sentence, no matter how good, can still be written better.
6. Write in a journal, everyday if you can. You might find yourself writing things you never thought you would, with beautiful phrasing.
7. Write when you feel inspired, and write even when you don't.
8. Write.
9. Write some more.
10. I'm being serious! Writing well is the most important skill you will ever learn. Even if you don't think you're going to use it often. Having the ability to write well gives you the ability to speak coherently and professionally and to know how to read other people when in conversation (re: audience).

Do you agree or disagree with my or any other of the authors rules? What are your rules for writing?