Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Around the Word

The purpose scriven life: Seems like this is a meditative moment for some of favorite friends in the speechwriting community. Vital Speeches editor David Murray set off a suitably vital conversation about the moral value of what we scribes do with a terrific blog post yesterday entitled, "What is the higher social purpose of leadership communications?" The day before, Cindy Starks tried to answer a different but related question -- how to give your speech lasting significance. Her advice: build in and up a "moment" that will give your audience something to hold onto. Citing a line from a speech given by Jesse Jackson more than 20 years ago that she still remembers, Starks argues that a well-written phrase can stick with your audience for years.

Know thy self(publishing): We are big fans of self-publishing's democratizing effect and all the doors its opening to unconventional authors. But April Hamilton, author and founder of the indie publishing blog Publetariat, today points out one of the dispiriting downsides to this trend in the non-fiction sector. She suggests that many novice authors are confusing experience with expertise, and that it's not bad writing that kills their self-published dreams -- and threatens the growth of this emerging market -- but self delusion. Just because you lost 15 pounds or created a popular YouTube video, Hamilton writes, does not make you an expert on dieting or going viral. Want to stand out and break through the clutter of self-published titles? Write what you really know.

Inspiration for your stay-cation: Travel memoirs are hot this time of year, with tales of sweeping vistas and grand adventures in foreign lands. But for those of us who are bitter about staying home this summer, Flavorwire has collected the best essays on vacations gone wrong to make us feel a letter better. From David Sedaris's sad journey in an Amtrak bar car to David Foster Wallace's neurotic ride on a cruise ship, these bad trips will make you laugh, cry and never want to leave home again.

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