There was nothing but land: not a country at all,
but the material out of which countries are made.

[Willa Cather]
(Jim Burden, in My Antonia)

The first thing many writing coaches advise is read, read, read. I’ve always read a lot and now that I read eBooks on my iPod, I read even more. I’ve discovered many authors who captivate me with their story-telling skills. I’ve also discovered that there are some authors who are published but who do not strike me as being much more than mediocre writers.

Do understand that I am not an authority on writing nor am I a professional writer. I just know what appeals to me as a reader. To me, good writing is so much more than good grammar. It includes a feel for shedding the limitations of mere words and expressing the spirit of the subject. When I read, I consider the author a mentor. I itemize writing traits and decide which traits I’d like to emulate in my writing.

After I went way over my budget buying eBooks, I discovered the least expensive books  are among the best written. Some are even free. That is when I rediscovered Willa Cather’s My Antonia. The simplicity of Ms Cather’s writing style seems to arise from her ability to use exactly the right words, phrases and sentences at the right time in her story. Her writing puts me in mind of The Pearl by John Steinbeck. I don’t remember the story in that novella as much as I remember his style of writing. It seemed that not a word in the story was unnecessary or without purpose. The overall effect was simplicity composed of the complex ability to say the right thing at the right time.

Reading encourages me not only to write, but to write better. Perhaps it will do the same for you.

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