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Excerpt – House of Verbs

our cat bella logoHere is the opening of a book project that I am about halfway through.

The working title is House of Verbs: Grammar, Style, and Usage for Writers.

To follow the project, visit The House of Verbs page.

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House of Verbs: Grammar, Style, and Usage for Writers

Part One: General

‘House of Verbs, Don speaking,’ he said …

“House of Verbs, Don speaking,” he said to the backshop guy on the internal line. “We have a special tonight on adjectives … three for a dollar.”

Don was one of the more playful News Editors that I answered to in fourteen years of copy editor work on daily newspapers.

House of Verbs.

I was looking right at Don when he picked up the phone.

Two things were apparent.

One. He had an odds-on chance that any caller on that line would be not only a member of the International Typographical Union but also a backshop printer who knew Don.

Don liked to laugh.

Two. Don made up his patter on the spot. I could see it in his eyes. House of Verbs was a one-time inspiration.

But here it is, and here he is. And here I am. And you, the most important person of all.

The reader.

House of Verbs. Open again, under new management.

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What does that mean ‘… for writers …’?

A book for writers would look like this, I suppose.

Or maybe a book for writers would resemble a book for readers who have written and who will write again.

Repeat offenders.

So far, in addressing this question — for writers — I have told the truth, but that makes little or no difference, to me or to you, in my view.

Okay, then, let us go at the question this way:

What does a writer seek?

What does a writer seek to avoid?

That gets us closer to the point.

Short of my slipping your computer a clever cookie and monitoring your digital life, I am guessing here. Even if our keywords match and our libraries have significant overlap, and my wife and your girlfriend get together once a week for coffee (with an executive summary of topics covered, from my wife, on my desk by close of business), and I somehow can inhabit your skin and can jack in to your brain, I’m still guessing.

I’m guessing at what matters to you, a writer who is just like or sorta like or not at all like me.

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Given the challenges of sentience and the unreliable, unruly nature of letters and words, to say nothing of sentences and paragraphs, I resolve to write about my hopes, my dreams, my fears, and my experience as a writer, editor, and self-publisher.

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