The Written Word

Learning to write well is a never-ending journey. Besides reading in the genres I write in, my writing tools are practice, workshops, books, and conferences. Other than the memoirs that have inspired me, I share some of the resources that keep helping me hone my skills.

I am a member of the Federation of British Columbia Writers and The International Women's Writing Guild. As a matter of fact, it's at my first annual summer conference that I finally came out as a writer.

 

Tutorial Books Marie Claude Arnott

The Elements of Style

William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White

This one-of-a-kind grammar book is a jewel. The original edition was published sometime in the early 1900s. I own the 2005 edition, wonderfully illustrated by Maira Kalman, and kept it on my night table for years. Whimsical illustrations kept me engaged when I’d be about to give up and shut the book on either the Elementary Rules of Usage, Principles of Composition, Form, or Approach to Style. However, Words and Expressions Misused, and Words Often Misspelled, were more engaging, not to mention punctuation pointers.

Writing Down the Bones

Natalie Goldberg - Freeing the Writer Within

I bet many writers own this book that reminds us that, like running, the more we write, the better we get at it. More than that, the book encourages us to break the rules. I often follow the advice to deconstruct a sentence when it doesn't read right, so I can reconstruct it in a better way, one that wasn’t obvious at first. A Zen master, Goldberg believes in the power of simplicity, of subtraction in writing.

One Year to a Writing Life

Susan M. Tiberghien - Twelve Lessons to Deepen Every Writers’ Art and Craft.

I worked on this book after my Freelance and Feature Writing course with the London School of Journalism. If writing interests you and you don’t know how to begin, this is the book for you. From journaling about the simplest of things, you will learn the basics of memoir writing and develop your skills.

Side by Side

Susan M. Tiberghien - Writing Your Love Story

As a memoirist, the author shows the ropes of nonfiction while sharing the story of her happy marriage. It’s personal, of course, but it doesn’t let you forget that this is a tutorial book, each chapter giving you a guided assignment to help you stay on track with memoir writing.

The Art of Memoir

Mary Karr

An irreverent blackbelt memoirist is good imagery for the author. After all, she is referred to as "the greatest memoirist of all times." She tells it like it is. The language is raw and to the point. It took me aback at first. She shows that writing a compelling memoir demands an unbridled mind. And, she demonstrates the efficacy—and science—of swearwords in a narrative.

The Heroine’s Journey

Maureen Murdoch

First published in 1990, this book is more engaging than ever because it's a guide for the feminine healing process. It’s both a self-help book and a writing tutorial. By shedding light on the dark personal, cultural, and spiritual nook and crannies of the feminine psyche, it’s a book for every memoirist.

Looking for Gold

Susan Tiberghien

This book is about writing from your dreams. It’s an introduction to psychotherapy through the author’s years of analysis and how your true self as a writer lives in your psyche.

Writing Towards Wholeness

Susan M. Tiberghien - Lessons Inspired by C.G. Jung

This book goes deeper into Jungian philosophy. Excerpts from inspiring authors help us understand how to search for our center—the depth of our psyche—from darkness to light, so we can bare our writing.

Unreliable Truth

Maureen Murdock - On Memoir and Memories

This book is evidence that writing a memoir is a work of introspection and that memory can be subjective, “it’s the meaning we make of our lives.” Sometimes, a taste or a scent, or perhaps a sound becomes the spark that ignites the recall of the past. Recalling and writing should continue until we feel in harmony with what we honestly shared—the story and the emotions.

Between You and Me

Mary Norris - Confessions of a Comma Queen

I once had an English professor who had a Ph.D. in punctuation. I was impressed. The author manages to give context and life to commas, dashes, and other semicolons through a memoir. It's not an easy read, but there is still much to gain from it.

True Stories Well Told

Edited by Lee Gutkind and Hattie Fletcher - 20 years of Creative Nonfiction magazine

Anthologies are collections of styles, and an enjoyable way to hone craft and voice.

So You Think Your Life’s a Movie

Linda Bergman – The Sequel

The story in a book is like the story in a film. The beginning must develop logically to the end, each scene and dialogue advancing the narrative. Rule number one to write a script: know your logline and stick to it. In fiction and nonfiction, keep your subtitle in mind. This book isn’t only informative, it’s entertaining too.

A Traveller’s Notebook

Grant Eustace

The author shows it's important to write down facts, emotions, and other anecdotes. They can indeed come together as a story.  I don't always know which it will be right away, but a story will eventually reveal itself from the notes I took while traveling.

Read my review

Back to Baking

Anna Olson

Baking is a catastrophe waiting to happen, Anna Olson explains. Good writing is essential to help prevent it from happening. If you always wanted to write a cookbook, learn from the best. Other than adding a specific vocabulary to my repertoire, I have been inspired by the presentation.
Read my review

“The writer’s room is the collective brain of a TV show."  Professionals talk about the craft of writing for television. A Q&A session might have the answer(s) to your question(s). Sometimes, the writers have no idea how a show will end, but improvisation is part of the creative process.

Read my report

Textbooks

Ah, old textbooks might not be enticing, but they are relevant, especially collections of essays by celebrated authors. Sometimes, they give me a seed of inspiration. Sometimes, they show an effective way to begin or end a paragraph, weave thoughts into a narrative, or they introduce me to a new word. I even think I rescued some of these textbooks after my son graduated from university.

I have a collection of these booklets that again inspire my writing. The essays highlight that the craft of writing evolves with new generations.

Written for and by writers, it includes useful resources from advertising.

The International Women's Writing Guild

(IWWG)

This website has a place, here. Attending my first summer conference was a landmark in my writing life. Since the pandemic, it offers digital workshops, open mic, and much more.

WRITING IS LIVING