Book Review: Several short sentences about writing

Several short sentences about writing, by Verlyn Klinkenborg (copyright 2012)

ImageI bought books about writing long before I admitted I was a writer. Maybe I would have loved this book no matter when it came into my life. Maybe I found it at the perfect time, after nearly a year of trying to teach myself the craft of putting words together.

This book not only taught, it enlightened and empowered. It revealed simple truths:

“Your job as a writer is making sentences.”

“Know what each sentence says.

Knowing what you’re trying to say is also important,

But knowing what you’ve actually said is crucial.”

In a way that was ever optimistic and encouraging:

“You’ll get better at examining your own choices–the ones you’ve already made

And the ones you see waiting to be made as you reread what you’ve written.”

And liberating:

“Every sentence is entitled to structural freedom.”

In the prologue Klinkenborg says, “There’s no gospel here, no orthodoxy, no dogma. Part of the struggle in learning to write is learning to ignore what isn’t useful to you and pay attention to what is.”

As someone still learning to write, I found his caveat unnecessarily humble. There wasn’t much in the book I didn’t find useful. But it was nice to hear someone acknowledge that finding my own way was not only valid, but essential.


2 thoughts on “Book Review: Several short sentences about writing

  1. I fell in love with Verlyn Klinkenborg via his small editorial “nature” pieces in the New York Times. I fell in love all over again when I got this book. He and I share a lot of beliefs about writing, but he knows how to articulate them!

    • I enjoy the way you articulate your writing beliefs on your blog very much! After reading Verlyn Klinkenborg’s book, I almost had a harder time making sentences. Long ones especially. At least, at first. Then, it got easier 🙂

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