Once Carl Sandburg remarked about a preacher: “I won’t take my religion from any man who never works except with his mouth.” I wonder if Sandburg would give us preachers a break if we also worked with pens, and not just with our mouths. Since Sandburg is dead, we’ll never know. But if you like working with words in speaking and writing, you need the latest book from my friend, Jim Stovall, titled The Writing Wright.
The Writing Wright offers “notes, essays, & advice on writing, & ponderings on writers & the writing life” according to the subtitle, and Jim Stovall is the one to talk about this writing stuff. He’s a journalism teacher (Distinguished Professor at the University of Tennessee) and has written several books, including a classic in the field, Writing for the Mass Media, soon to be issued in its seventh edition.
The Writing Wright brims with quotes, anecdotes, excerpts, and illustrations about writers and writing. From Samuel Johnson to Ernest Hemingway to Mark Twain plus about fifty more writers, Stovall packs his compendium with the humorous and helpful for professional and aspiring writers. It’s the kind of book you will pick up again and again just to read it and smile because a writer you like said something interesting. Or funny. Or clever. Or outlandish. But never boring.
I’m partial to the book because Jim is my friend. We went to high school together and both of us chose a life working with words. He chose journalism, I entered the ministry, and we have a shared love of books, politics, and Tennessee that spans a lifetime. Get a couple of copies — the book would make a fine gift for someone who loves writing. If you do, tell Jim what you think. You can friend him on Facebook. He and I are collaborating on a couple of projects, too. I’ll let you know how those come out.