Even though I finished my Teaching Grammar class last Friday, I still had this week to finish up the final papers. I had to write annotated bibliographies on Steering the Craft and Grammar Alive! (The exclamation point is part of the title; I'm not outraged over having to write annotated bibliographies.) I highly recommend both these titles to English teachers, but I especially recommend Steering the Craft if you are a writer or like to reading about the craft of writing. Ursula K. Le Guin, who lives in Portland, is so engaging and humorous in this book; plus, it's filled with all sorts of lovely examples of great writing from classic texts.
Like this quiet, gentle sentence from Huck Finn:
The first thing to see, looking away over the water, was a kind of dull line – that was the wood on t’other side – you couldn’t make nothing else out; then a pale place in the sky; then more paleness, spreading around; then the river softened up , away off, and warn’t black any more, but gray; you could see little dark spots drifting along, ever so far away – trading scows, and such things; and long black streaks – rafts; sometimes you could hear a sweep screaking; or jumbled-up voices, it was so still, and sounds come so far; and by-and-by you could see a streak on the water which you know by the look of the streak that there’s a snag there in a swift current which breaks on it and makes that streak look that way; and you see the mist curl up off of the water, and the east reddens up, and the river, and you make out a log cabin in the edge of the woods, away on the bank on t’other side of the river, being a woodyard, likely, and piled by them cheats so you can throw a dog through it anywheres; then the nice breeze springs up, and comes fanning you from over there, so cool and fresh, and sweet to smell, on account of the woods and the flowers; but sometimes not that way, because they’ve left dead fish laying around, gars, and such, and they do get pretty rank; and next you’ve go the full day, and everything smiling in the sun, and the song-birds just going it! --Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huck Finn
It is, as Le Guin writes, one of the greatest sunrises in all of literature. Read it aloud and you'll find that you can't yell it. There's a slow rhythm to it, a gradualness, like the sun coming up. If you skipped over reading the last paragraph to get to this one, I'm telling you in my best bossy teacherly voice, go back and read it. Seriously. It's amazing.
Speaking of sunrises, that's how long I have until my final paper--a case study of my own writing--is due. All this writing about my own writing is making me want to take a vacation from writing. I might have to spend the next two weeks just doing blog memes. That'll clear my head.
Okay. Back to work.