Sunday, March 6, 2011


My posts to this blog have become a bit irregular – not for lack of roughage – but due to efforts to ramp up on other matters. Those other matters have highlighted a few must haves:

WEBSTER’S SEVENTH NEW COLLEGIATE DICTIONARY © 1965. Inside the front cover, written in the hand of a 14-year-old, is my name. Given to me as a graduation present from mom and dad as I matriculated from Chico Junior to Chico High, this volume is better than anything available on line. While now I have to use a magnifier to read the text, once I can focus, the completeness of a Webster’s entry proves to be almost nonpareil, Oxford English not withstanding. Beyond just how to spell the word, its etymology – yes, I just looked that word up – pronunciation and samples of use make me smarter with each new investigation. More time-consuming than spell-check, which I also rely upon, a good dictionary links our words today with the very origins of language. What a gift.

THE NEW ROGET’S THESAURUS (IN DICTIONARY FORM) © 1964. Same as above. As a bumpkin growing up in Chico, this volume – a companion gift to that listed above – provides easy access to broader language than does the Thesaurus preloaded on my computer. It helps me to appear much more learned than I really are.  Thanks mom and dad. These two volumes have proven to be among many life long gifts you have given me.

LITERARY JOURNALS. I need understand more about contemporary fiction to better inform my own writing. Fiction, like all art, does different things to different people. Fiction presents in different forms, styles and genres. Like looking at a really good abstract painting, much contemporary fiction, I find, I don’t “get.” Some stories, however, invite me to read further and stay with me after I’ve closed the book or periodical. As I battle my personal bumpkin-ness in an effort to become more literate, I have discovered the immense value of literary journals. These are wonderful sources for seeing what the good established writers and the good new writers are doing. They have set a high bar. My goal is to write, revise and/or market four to six hours every day. A good dose of daily reading is part of that.

[Interestingly, I can easily find literary journals at independent booksellers like Lyons Books in Chico, California; but not so much at the larger mega-book sellers. I know why that is. Literary journals are small volume volumes, and corporate booksellers can’t, many times, justify the shelf space. Bully for the little guy!]

SHORT STORY AMERICA Short Story America is a source I have stumbled upon recently. I have been impressed with the quality of the writing and the ease with which it can be accessed. While a log in and password is required, it’s free and each story I’ve read thus far has been more than worth the investment in time. Kudos to Short Story America for providing this platform for both authors and readers. Mr. Brilliant recommends you check out the link, bookmark the site and check in on it every couple of weeks or so.

“I’ll write good some day.” But it will take a lot of work and success won’t happen without lots of reference to the tools listed above.

© 2011
Church of the Open Road Press

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