From Public Thinker: Tressie McMillan Cottom On Writing in One’s Own Voice
Today is the feast day of St. Francis de Sales. He was born in Chateau de Sales to a noble family in 1567. He enjoyed a privileged education, eventually becoming a Bishop and a Doctor of the Church before his death in 1622.
He was canonized in 1665.
His motto in Latin is Non-excidet which translates to He will not fail or He will not give up, either appropriate for his patronage of writers and journalists.
Some of his words of wisdom may be found here, but I include some of my favorites below:
Be who you are and be that well.
Have patience with all things, But, first of all with yourself.
Such simple advice, common sense thoughts, and yet…so much more, so much to contemplate.
Admittedly, I wasn’t familiar with him until meeting my friend, Brother Mickey McGrath who is a Salesian Oblate. He is also an artist. This is his most recent offering. Clicking it will direct you to his website where you can see his other works including his books on variety of spiritual/religious topics, saints, and Popes. It is well worth your time.
Bernard Cornwell is one of the foremost writers of historical fiction. His fictional travels have taken me from the Anglo-Saxon period through to the Revolutionary War. He has a brilliant way of describing the battles and creates the vision in your mind so you feel as though you were there.
For a long time, I resisted reading his Winter King trilogy that focused on King Arthur. I have had my own image of Arthur’s world of Camelot and Excalibur since my five page high school paper on Thomas Malory’s L’Morte D’Arthur that went on for over fifteen pages. My teacher was not thrilled. In addition to that being ingrained in my head and heart, I also had the John Boorman Excalibur movie with Nigel Terry, Helen Mirren, and Nicol Williamson that I was attached to. When I eventually gave in to my friend’s persistent recommendation, I could not put The Winter King down and it is now my headcanon. The next two books were equally enthralling and I highly recommend them and every other one of Cornwell’s books.
I’ve read his only historical (non-fiction) book, Waterloo is also brilliant.
Here is some of his writing advice for you to enjoy and incorporate.
Wil Wheaton is one of my favorite writers, nay people. I don’t agree with everything he espouses, I don’t think anyone can agree with everything anyone espouses, but we’re on the same wavelength more often than not.
He is a writer’s writer. When he finds something that works, he doesn’t hoard or hide it; he shares it with the masses and he believes you can be a good writer too.
In this blog post, he shares the three books that have made him a better writer. I have read Stephen King’s On Writing, and have highly recommended it. I now have the two other books on my to-read list because Wil’s advice is usually spot on.
And while you’re taking his writing advice, read his work as well!
Lead with gratitude
The air in your lungs, the sky above you.
Proceed from there.
– Lin-Manuel Miranda
Break Time – Talk/Write about the Author/Book you credit with igniting your writing passion.
Writing Advice from a Pro:
I wished I’d discovered this a week ago (or more) so I could have prepared properly, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t put a few thoughts out there to encourage writing, yours as well as mine.
Everything is a prompt. Everything is connected.
Example: How did I find out about National Writing Day?
Scrolling through Facebook, saw a post about Wales – three places to write in Wales on NWD. Google NWD 2018, find their website. It’s today! Go to the website. See offer to follow on instagram. Follow. Link in bio to download Write Away activity for today.
I share that with you here:
Click here to download Write Away! activity.
Towards the end of this week, my biannual writing group returns for the spring. That weekly sojourn for a few weeks to recharge the writer and see what we can do. In addition to that, this month marks the first time I’m embarking on Camp Nanowrimo, the summer camp version of November’s event. This is a little different, a little more at ease. I was invited to a cabin in Tennessee, so I thought I’ve never been to Tennessee, why not. (Just a quick note: the cabins are virtual – it’s a chat room with a few like-minded writers.Unfortunately, I won’t be traveling to Tennessee.) It will give me the impetus to do more with my Wales book, maybe get an outline or an ongoing theme, but definitely something.
With these two embarkments and my commitment to this site, I need to get my writing tools in order so that they can easily be adapted to any environment: home, library, coffee shop, cabin in the woods.
In the past I’ve used a first aid kit that I’ve gotten for free at Target. They usually have them readily available in the spring, and are often on sale – buy three items, get the kit for free. It’s a good deal, and if you actually pay for the kit, it’s not more than $6.
Currently, I’m using a slightly bigger version – this one is a Bible case. I’m sure you’ve seen them in the religion section of any bookstore. They’re large enough to fit a Bible, a notebook for Bible study, pens, etc. The one I use, I found at a bargain warehouse for $6.99. It fits everything I need, and it’s small enough that I can toss it into a tote bag to go wherever I need to. It also has a handle like a handbag, so it can be carried on its own.
None of the bags, or writing tool kits need to cost a small fortune if you know what you need ahead of time and can search for your most important specifications.
And, of course, you can reuse something you already have hidden in your closet.
The basic layout of my tool kit is that it zips around, and has one flat pocket on the outside back. Inside, I can open it to lay flat. On both sides is a slip pocket. In the center spine is an attached fabric bookmark. It is religious in nature, but if that bothers you, it can be removed with scissors. On the right side of mine, over the slip pocket, is a clear half pocket and four loops for writing instruments.
Depending on how large your items are, you might be able to fit a cell phone and very flat wallet inside. That way, you only need to carry the case. I usually can’t do that, but one day, maybe.
What do I carry to make my case a writer’s tool kit?
16 Books Every Woman Needs to Read from Bustle.
Plus, the books that I’ve read this year that I would recommend, either about women or by women or both:
Yes, Please by Amy Poehler
My Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsburg with Mary Harnett and Wendy W. Williams
The Jet Sex: Airline Stewardesses and the Making of an American Icon by Victoria Vantoch
My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor
Hidden Figures: The Story of the African-American Women Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood (fictional)
The Zookeeper’s Wife: A War Story by Diane Ackerman
Game of Queens: The Women Who Made Sixteenth Century Europe by Sarah Gristwood
The Princess Diarist by Carrie Fisher