One New Thing

A good way to become something is to act like you already are that thing. Fake it til you make it. Pray first and faith will follow. Subscribe to magazines for writers if you want to become one.

Last year my daughter came home with a school fundraiser offering magazine subscriptions. I avoid magazines. The stack of prefinished library books on my bedside table attests to my eyes being larger than my stomach. Throw in the Internet and I had little faith I could consume an extra monthly helping. But there it was, ‘The Writer’ magazine for a piddly buck and change per issue. I was a serious writer now. I was going to wear the hell out of that hat.

That trigger pulled, I forgot about it for a few weeks until the constant writing I was doing forced the idea back in with a side of anticipation. Anticipation turned to frustration. I was a writer. Where was my Writer magazine? I flirted with the idea of following up, but the U.S. postal service rescued me from having to do something so out of character.

I didn’t read it right away. Perhaps I was savoring. When I did read it, I was, to a degree, disappointed. Most of the magazine was completely irrelevant to me. I’m not a poet. I have no desire to write biographies. I’m not interested in where to find the historical archives of the work of E.E. Cummings. That is not to say that it is less than a quality magazine. It is well put together and a credit to its creators.

My disappointment didn’t last long, because in every issue I found at least one thing that made me a better writer. That didn’t seem like enough at first, but then I remembered how important little things can be. They add up. They can change your whole outlook on something.

One month the magazine put me on the path toward acquiring Verlyn Klinkenborg’s book ‘Several Short Sentences on Writing’. Aside from having one of the best author names ever, the book is a masterpiece, flying in the face of much of what we’re taught in school about writing. It shifted my perception about what we do as writers. We don’t write words, we don’t write stories, we write sentences.

Another month, the only thing I walked away with was to target the verb to be during my editing. Get rid of it as much as you can, and your writing will be stronger. I left it in the last sentence on purpose. Get rid of it as much as you can, and your writing strengthens. See it?

Would you pay a buck and change for one thing that improves your writing? I’m sold. Of course, a month after it started coming in the mail I found out that my library allows me to download the magazine from their site. I think they deserve my patronage.

I assume I’ll continue learning at least one new thing a month, and I’ll report them back here as we go along. Feel free to post your own one thing down below.

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