Kristan Hoffman - Writing Dreams Into Reality

Wed Nov 12 2008

Writing with style, aka Why Kurt Vonnegut rocks

Yesterday I had a brief conversation with the master himself, Kurt Vonnegut.

… i.e., I read “How to Write with Style” by Kurt Vonnegut and thought about what he had to say. The highlights of our “discussion” are as follows:

The most damning revelation you can make about yourself is that you do not know what is interesting and what is not. Don’t you yourself like or dislike writers mainly for what they choose to show you or make you think about? Did you ever admire an emptyheaded writer for his or her mastery of the language? No.

Hmm, no. Good point.

I am not urging you to write a novel, by the way — although I would not be sorry if you wrote one, provided you genuinely cared about something. A petition to the mayor about a pothole in front of your house or a love letter to the girl next door will do.

Hehe. You’re so cute and funny, Kurt! But there’s only a boy next door, and he’s sixteen, so that gets into some sketchy territory. Also, I have a boyfriend.

But I bet a petition or a love letter would be a lot easier than banging my head against my keyboard every day…

Simplicity of language is not only reputable, but perhaps even sacred. The Bible opens with a sentence well within the writing skills of a lively fourteen-year-old: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”

I haven’t read that much of the Bible myself, but I see your point.

Thank you, Kurt, this has been very enlightening. No wonder you were such an awesome writer! I will try to keep your sage widsom in mind as I proceed, ever so slowly, on my own path as an author. Hopefully this will speed things up a bit, i.e., help me get published, because if that doesn’t happen soon, I may throw my keyboard away and go join the circus. Specifically, Cirque du Soleil. Because they have like a bajillion shows, all of which are popular. And I’m part Chinese, so I could probably twist myself into little pretzel-y shapes like those ten year old girls, right?

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