So maybe I have a hyper-competitive side; it’s been present since my youth. In Little League baseball, I was the first kid in my city ever ejected from a game. I’m also still bitter about the time I lost a foot race against Howard Schaap.
One hates his enemies only when he fails to realize that they are not enemies, but cruel friends. – St. Nikolai Velimirovich (1881-1956)
The noted novelist who taught the fiction writers workshop I attended said this a lot: “Assume your reader is smarter than you are.” As a reviewer of self-published works for an online indie book review site, I see a lot of writing that makes me wish every author kept this in mind.
I have a friend who has this gnarly summer job—she calls it an “opportunity.” The thing is it’s not, in truth, gnarly at all. I mean, if picking rocks in the broiling sun is immensely amusing, or if spending most of a day uncomfortably bent over with a linoleum knife hacking away the weeds from inside small prickly spruce trees is an escapade of frivolity, or if cutting heavily tractor packed sod with a shovel is a thing to delight in, then I guess her job really is “gnarly.” When she gets back from her summer job—at least she has a rocking hot tan—I offer my sympathies to her: “Whatever, pays the bills, right?”
It is a Saturday. I am 18. I’m at one of too-many college orientation events.
The British newspaper The Guardian recently invited a handful of writers to discuss the words that they cherish the most. “One of my favorites is the Cumbrian word glisky,” wrote novelist Sarah Hall, “meaning a kind of bright flashing light that you get after it has rained, when all the surfaces are wet and reflecting.”