Friday, March 16, 2007


I have engaged on re-reading "On Writing Well" by william Zinsser, which I had taken a look at during universiity. Excellent book, a must-read for any prentense, amateur or wannabe writers like myself.

The book brings a series of commandments useful to any writer: avoid clatter; be authentic; be human. The last thing people need is a series of vague, long, unnecessary words that tell meaningless things.

There is also one powerful message in one of the earlier chapters: writing is not easy, It is hard, toiling, tense, and exasperating. Many people tend to think it is not, and therefore express the wish that they become writers "when they retire" - as if writing was a much less important profession than the others, as if anyone could become a proper writer at the flick of a finger.

I had not realized the power of that statement until a mundane event during dinner last night. I noticed that the starter I ordered was really good: a burrito made of bacon and aspargus. I thought, "hm, maybe next time I have a dinner at home I surprise my guests with this starter. Or, think about it, I can improve it, and make a prsociutto and aspargus burrito, with soy sauce..."

Stop. If you don't know me, I have never - ever - cooked a single meal that did not come out of the microwave or steam pot. Yet recently I have developed a sudden interest for cooking - some form of delirium which arose after watching too much Gordon Ramsay while in the UK. But who am I to think I can go on and create something nice to eat just because I had a whim of 'creativity'?

With writing is the same. Blogs accept anything (as a quick browse thorugh this one will show), but let's respect real writers. Non-fiction writing is a profession, a very difficult one. Fiction writing is a form of art, of craftmanship, and as any craftmanship it takes practice. Let us not fool ourselves that we are George Orwell. Or Will Zinsser.

So the blogger's challenge is to keep it real. Keep it authentic. Do whatever we do in life first, and when we write, let's not invent too much. Let's communicate. Let's be clear.

Anyway, just realized I had that moment of insight while eating an aspargus burrito in a self-proclaimed Argentine Steak House in Samara (interior of Russia), while a local singer went on, his guitar the only background, on a rendition of "Nothing's Gonna Change My Love For You" with a thick, nonchalant Russian accent.

Now talk about authenticity.

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