If you don’t know what’s wrong with this picture (or rather, T-shirt) and you intend to write
—a literary masterpiece or a letter to Grandma—you need an editor.
As I try to wrap my head around the loss of my friend and mentor, former publisher Carolyn Hayes Uber, and attempt to describe her influence, her persona, her life, I am struck by a remark I heard just today that helps put everything in perspective. And the fact that this remark mentions a common editing term (the dash), is serendipitous. Carolyn would be tickled.
In the documentary Into the Abyss, director Werner Herzog interviews Fred Allen, who explains his role in executions as the former captain of the Death House team at the Polunsky prison unit in Livingston, Texas. Allen is clearly conflicted (eventually resigning his post), as he sees the lives of inmates reduced to numbers: 1954 – 2011, for example. He realizes and explains, quite eloquently, that our lives are not reflected in a birthdate or date of passing, but the dash in between. (Granted, it’s really a hyphen, but I’m not here to edit today.) Mr. Allen then asks, How are you going to live your dash?
Which brings me back to Carolyn, who lived her dash with courage and strength and humor and love. So for Carolyn and my father and my “adopted” mother Patricia and other dear friends who are no longer here, I will live my dash, really live it… bravely, respectfully, happily. I hope you will, too.
For more details about the workshop, or COWG, visit their website:
Now you know when I say I’m getting a new piece … or working on a magazine , I mean of the Smith and Wesson kind. A big thanks to the clever writing at the ONION.
(Photo courtesy of Arvind Grover
Once again, my world is turned upside down (or for those of you sticklers who insist we cannot end sentences with prepositions … once again, upside down is my world).
At first, I only wrote stories on yellow-lined legal pads of paper and only read books the old-fashioned way – in print, in hardcover. I listened to CDs on a walkman. I had an answering machine. I had a vcr.
But I was determined not to be left behind, so I jumped on the bandwagon – moving slowly from desktop to laptop, from pc to MAC. I went from voicemail to email to text; from flip phone to iPhone. I got an iPod, a DVD player, a scanner!
I joined Facebook, set up a website, started a blog!
And then I read that the Pope sent out a tweet (in seven languages, no less) on his iPad (@Pontifex – in case you’re interested). He has a million followers already.
I’ll never catch up.
I often work myself into contortions trying to stress the importance of proper punctuation … but sometimes all it takes is an example so succinct that the point is driven home without so much as a deep knee bend.
If you’ll be in the Bend/Redmond, Oregon neighborhood next month, I’m giving a workshop on writing for the Central Oregon Writers’ Guild and invite you to attend! To learn more about the workshop or COWG, click here:
The three-hour workshop will include hands-on activities designed to incorporate the tips and techniques introduced. Participants are encouraged to bring five copies of their own “first two pages” for review and recommendations, and of course, their own red pens!