Gary Provost, quoted in Roy Peter Clark’s (terrific) Writing Tools:
This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones. It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety. Now listen. I vary the sentence length, and I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals–sounds that say listen to this, it is important.
It’s good advice, of course, but mostly I was impressed by the execution.
Our culture’s post-Reformation, post-Enlightenment prohibition on the supernatural and exclusion of a transcendent, nonmaterialist level of reality from the allowable universe has created the ontological equivalent of a perversion caused by repression. … The displaced religious impulse surfaces … as an overvaluing of the object beyond its intrinsic function in our lives. Craving its holy objects, its temples, its roadside shrines and absolutions, we have let the transcendental in distorted form invade art, the sexual experience, psychotherapy, even the quasi-worship of celebrities living and dead. …
The contemporary realm of popular entertainment is our main subterranean entry, the grotto entry, to the boarded-up mansion of sacred awe, where we conduct our primitive discourse on religious subjects–a discourse whose crudeness would horrify our pious ancestors, but nonetheless a discourse–behind our own backs.
File under: “Did ya ever look at a dollar bill? There’s some spooky shit goin’ on.”
Shelve with: Milutis, Ether; Wood, Edison’s Eve.
(Via my man Devon Elliott.) (I haven’t gotten to the puppets yet.)
Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement; then it becomes a mistress, and then it becomes a master, and then a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster, and fling him out to the public.
The monster is back, patient readers, but it only has a few hit points left.