What Bartlett Says…..

Improve Your Writing


When I was young—a long looong time ago— my Mother relied on two books to raise my sister and me. The famous Dr. Spock Baby and Childcare book about raising perfect children was not one of them. Her choices were her Bible (of course) and her Bartlett’s. As in Bartlett’s Famous Quotations.

If we needed a little inspiration in our life, Mom would say “Get the Bartlett’s” and we would run dutifully to her bedroom and get the book from her nightstand. And yes, my Mother read it like a novel and inevitably came up with a quote that exactly fit whatever situation we faced.

She would spend her precious quiet time reading quotations from long ago and far away, as well as some considered more up to date. For my Mother, the beauty of language remained the same from generation to generation, and so did the good advice.

Don’t ask me why, but one of her favorite writers was Virgil. (I’ve always wondered if that contributed to my interest in Latin in high school. Well, that and the fact that once a year we got to dress in sheets and call them togas. Oh, yeah, and eat with our hands while sitting on the floor around low tables. What’s not to like about that?) But I digress.

Were we having qualms about trying out for the band? She’d get the Bartlett’s and quote “Fortune sides with him who dares.” Get into trouble in algebra class? “The descent into Hell is easy.” Bartlett could be counted on for pithy advice anytime. “The greatest wealth is health.” Good one, Virgil!

This is NaNoWriMo month and for the sixth time I’ve decided to run that 50,000 word marathon. It’s daunting and exhilarating at the same time. (Words accomplished to date—12,342…nine days into the writing.) I’m trying to do 2,000 a day, but haven’t reached that goal quite yet.

Facing that blank page on the computer and coming up with sentences that are not too goofy to fill space and time may not seem like the best use of your creativity  to you. However, the elation, the sheer delight I feel when I finish and have completed the 50,000 words is a huge emotional reward.

So, for those of you doing this challenge for the first time and feeling a little overwhelmed, trust me, you are going to be so happy you committed to spending your energy writing.  Don’t believe me? Get your trusty Bartlett’s, and look up another great Virgil quote.  “Trust one who has gone through it.”

Happy writing!




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