Posts filed under ‘Writing’

Take the Leap: Your Inspiration Is Waiting (But it Won’t Wait Forever!)

take the leap

This past spring, I had the unbelievable good fortune to be asked to interview 10 pioneering training industry leaders—dubbed the “legends” in the industry at the ISA-The Association of Learning Providers Annual Business Retreat—about their careers, motivations and staying power.

The interviews formed the basis for an article in this summer’s issue of Training Magazine. From Don Schrello, literally a rocket scientist, telling me how he “fell into” a new career in training after working on the Apollo program to Ken Blanchard’s tales of his winding road of ups and downs on the way to becoming one of the preeminent minds in leadership, the stories were, yes, the stuff of legend, but also in a way, completely relatable, even humble.

Pat McLagan may have been Board Chair of the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation, but she wanted to tell me about a teenage job she had peeling potatoes. Gradually over the course of our conversation, the picture of how she got from potato-peeler to one of the most distinguished and honored women in her field became clear.

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August 8, 2012 at 10:53 pm 2 comments

Don’t Make Me Send in the Word Police

Stop showing off how stupid you are.

The contraction of “you are” is “you’re.”

It is not “your.”

That is all.

January 2, 2012 at 12:13 pm 3 comments

5 From the Bookshelf: On Language, Writing and Lifelong Learning

Iceland

That's me, in Iceland. I swear this has a connection to the story.

Back in the dark ages when I was an undergrad student at Tulane, the English major was divided into two separate tracks: “Literature” and “Language, Writing and Rhetoric,” or LWR.

Those of us in the LWR track were fighting a losing battle against its gradual and eventual phasing out, which meant during registration each semester you could always spot a few LWR majors frantically pacing from table to table, looking for something – anything – to sign up for that would count towards our requirements.

There was some upside. I may have missed the opportunity to take Medieval English as a foreign language my senior year, but I ended up instead in a Medieval Literature seminar focused on early Icelandic sagas. A surprisingly entertaining class taught by a professor with a passion for all things Icelandic, it’s something I never would have considered taking if it hadn’t been essentially the last English class left with an open slot. And had I not taken it, I probably wouldn’t have been so motivated to take a trip to Iceland a few years ago.

But all those “history of the language” classes? I never did get them. That’s probably why I find myself picking up all kinds of language and writing books now – some easy-to-read and fun, others a little technical and dense (and I’m not even going to mention the various squads of The Atlantic’s Word Police Academy I’ve been inducted into).

More than just a hobby, though, these kinds of books can come in handy when you’re faced with a blank page or trying to decide if it should be “toward” or “towards,” so I thought I’d share some of my favorites with you. Whether you’re a recovering LWR major, want some context to make it easier to understand the quirky rules of English grammar and usage, or just have an unhealthy obsession with the language like I do, here’s my summer reading list for the classes I never took.

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June 9, 2011 at 4:55 pm Leave a comment

Getting an ‘A’ in Writer’s Block

There it is. Another week creeping by, and the unwritten blog post lurks in my head, but just out of reach.

the brick wall

I know writer’s block. You could even say I studied it in school. Or at least, that’s when I had my first encounter with the psychic annoyance of it all.

The summer between my junior and senior years in high school, I attended the summer session at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass. My “major” was Creative Writing. Six days a week, I would be working on writing. Every two days a paper was due.

I actually really lucked out with my class. I inadvertently ended up with the most sought-after teacher from the winter session, an English teacher/poet who was, at the time (and probably still to this day), one of the most generous, passionate, funny and interesting people I’d ever met.

He was the kind of person who would read a line of poetry and say, “Man, isn’t that amazing? I wish I’d written a line that ended with the word ‘leeks.'”

And suddenly you were wishing you’d written a line ending in vegetables, too.

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September 16, 2010 at 12:54 am 1 comment


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