Thursday, June 21, 2007

Everybody must get honed

If you live in L.A., through the basic laws of mathematics you know at least 83 actors. If you're from New England, it's the fishermen and their boats you know. If you grew up in the deserts of the southwest, you've probably met a dozen singing cacti and their ukulele partners, but that was due to the oppressive heat, right? But in the Twin Cities, everyone knows a writer. That's because here, we're creators. We're defined by our need to define.

As local writer John D. Bessler explains in his most recent and wonderful book, Writing for Life: The Craft of Writing for Everyday Living, writing is the source of innovation and social change. Of course as Twin Citizens, we're skilled at creating change and life even when subzero temperatures turn our world into one of Saturn's distant rings and everyone becomes all beefy and heart-heavy and mercurial. And Bessler's book is for all of us: those who long to be writers, and those who long to create, think, and become more engaged with their world, even if it is Saturn-like.

Bessler is an attorney, professor, and author of three books on capital punishment. In his inspiring and passionate book on writing, Bessler tackles the often intimidating subject like a true scholar and expert. (You should check out his endless lists of notes!) He researches and analyzes writing like an astute lawyer, citing thousands of experts--from neurologist Alice Flaherty and Columbian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez to scientist Steven Quartz and archaeologist Deborah Darnell and her study of ancient phonetics. The wonderful quotes he's gathered (from Plato to Kafka) could very well be a book on their own.

Think of the book as a more intellectual Bird by Bird. A writing bible that's inspirational, honest, and beginner-friendly, as well as chock-full of useful info that even the most erudite bookworm in your life is sure to embrace.

John D. Bessler, Writing for Life: The Craft of Writing for Everyday Living; $24.95: