Since reading Doug Wilson’s Wordsmithy in January, I’ve recommended it to at least five different aspiring writers as one of the most helpful guides to the writing life.
The life at the end of that sentence is the most important part, as it’s advice about that which makes Wordsmithy valuable. As someone who is published, who has given himself over to the silly pretentiousness of being called a “writer,” who has struggled to keep a world beyond words, I was particularly challenged by Wilson’s advice. It’s the sort of book I wish I’d found two years ago, or better, ten or fifteen.
What’s more, Wilson makes the whole thing venture look easy enough to inspire a writer to find out how genuinely difficult the craft can be. Writers are always tempted to trade clarity for turning a good phrase, to let go of the argument for a bit of a rhetorical excess in the vain attempt to keep an already bored reader somewhat occupied. But as in all of Wilson’s work, Wordsmithy studiously avoids the temptation. One never feels, even amidst the enormously catchy prose, that Wilson has lost control or begun fudging what he really means to say.
There’s more to be said, but nothing that can be said so well as is already in the book. Purchase and read and you will not be disappointed.
There’s also the matter of the conference they’re hosting, a conference that is one of the only writing conferences I know of I’d seriously consider paying considerable money to attend. John Wilson of Books and Culture will be there, as will N.D. Wilson. I can’t think of three living writers who, in their own way, I respect more than that crew. Yes, they’ve been advertising around Mere-O for about a month, so call this a conflict of interest if you must. But if you’ll trust me and read the book you’ll know that I would have raved about it all anyway.