I finished listening to the audiobook for ELEMENTS OF STYLE by Strunk and White. I've read ELEMENTS a few times (and I teach from it in my Creative Writing class), but it was nice to have Frank McCourt's narration. He added some humor I never noticed before in a few of the lines.
For any writer, I consider it required reading. Seriously. I'm a full blown disciple of this little book and E.B. White's reminders on style. This section is especially comforting:
"What," an imaginary student asks Mr. White, "if it comes natural to me to experiment rather than conform? What if I am a pioneer or even a genius?"
And Mr. White answers:
"Then be one. But do not forget that what may seem like pioneering may be merely evasion, or laziness--the disinclination to submit to discipline. Writing good standard English is no cinch, and before you have managed it you will have encountered enough rough country to satisfy even the most adventurous spirit."
I've never considered myself a genius or experimental, but I keep feeling if I can't be one (a genius) or at least fake it -- then there will be no room for me among the career writers. I love E.B. White's dismissive tone. He has no patience for the genius. He's addressing the writers who sweat each line and every word. Which means, he's talking to me.