Most writers I know are word whores. That’s right, you heard me, whores. We love and crave words and will offer our minds up to the gods for acquisitions of new words and better skills at manipulating them. When a sentence falls together, words following each other in poetic narration, we practically moan with intellectual orgasm.
Or maybe that’s just me.
Sure, when I read I take pleasure in a good story, a finely crafted plot with engaging characters. But what really sends me is artful writing. Some writers have the gift of conveying their story and thoughts in words oozing with emotion, personality, intelligence, rhythm, poetry, visuals. Their words can conjure movie-like stills in my mind, or evoke feelings with such ease I scarcely notice the craft and yet when I do, I stop amazed, admiring-- nay lusting-- their skill.
A few of my favorite authors in this regard are Bill Bryson, Michael Perry and Anne Lamott. They each have their own unique voice, but man, can these people write. I’m not sure if these authors inspire me or bring me to my knees in humbled admission that I will never be as accomplished or smart or funny or clever. I love them. I hate them.
Michael Perry, is the author of non-fiction books including, Coop, Population: 485, Truck: A Love Story and his most recent, Visiting Tom. He is my writing hero. He completely gets that memoirs are not about the events, but about the heart’s inner transformation. Somehow he manages to take topics I would never initially think would engage me, and weave together a story with such intelligent, poetic narration, I am in the throes of word ecstasy and author-crush by the time I complete his books.
Bill Bryson is just flat-out a very thoughtful and correct writer—the man remembers his English lessons. When required, his research is impeccable (At Home, Shakespeare) and his story-telling skills, especially for non-fiction, are delightful, written with humor and vivid description and contain admirable, smart, well-constructed writing (The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, A Walk in the Woods).
Finally, most every writer is familiar with Anne Lamott of Bird by Bird fame. But all her books (Traveling Mercies, Grace (Eventually), Plan B: Further Thoughts on Grace) are a treat-filled lesson on how to create casual, narrative conversation with very well-thought out writing. At a book’s completion, I feel like I’ve just had a witty, warm and thoughtful chat with a friend. In fact, I have to resist the urge to call her up for coffee and admit I have a crush on her, which of course would probably freak her out a bit and destroy our budding wrimance (writer’s romance).
Who are your author crushes? Who makes you bite your lip in sheer word ecstasy and why? Reading a great writing craft book can teach wonderful fundamentals, but watching an artist apply them with skilled talent is like being on the set of great word porn.
Keep writing (and reading)—