Monday, August 26, 2013

I Don't Know What To Write

A few times I have been asked to give a workshop on "writing books" or "how to write." The main comment I get is, "I don't know what to write about."  My answer is usually to ask a person in the audience to toss out a subject and I tell them beforehand that I can come up with five different themes to write about from that one suggestion. For instance, one person shouted out "grocery stores." I answered in almost rapid responses: how to shop, using weekly ads, how and where grocers place items on
shelves, and what to do about people who talk loudly on their cell phones the entire time they, and you, are shopping. Another said "men's shoes."  My answers were: a history of men's shoes, how fine shoes are made, current trends in men's shoes, how to take care of your shoes, and can you buy shoes for another person.

 Not all of these ideas would play out to be a vital article, and research is required on all the answers. The point is if I can find five topics in rapid succession off the top of my head in a public venue with random topics, you, too, can find some topic about which to write!

In researching this subject, I came across a large number of books whose titles made me wonder, "How did THAT get published?" These titles prove my point better than any more expounding on how and where to find topics you may want to explore for writing. You never know what publishers will print.                                                                                                

Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America: A Guide to Field Identification, Julian Montague

How to Start Your Own Country, Edwin S. Strauss

The Toothpick: Technology and Culture, Henry Petroski

Catflexing: A Catlovers Guide to Weight Training, Aerobics and Stretching, Stephanie Jacobsen

Village Bells,  Alain Cobin 

Fashion in Spinach, Elizabeth Hawes

Bicycles in War, Martin Cardin and Jay Barbree

English Laundresses Working Class 1850-1930

How to Disappear Completely and Never Be Found, Doug Richmond

Bombproof Your Horse, Rick Pelicano

Blessed Are the Cheesemakers,  Sarah-Kate Lynch

Knitting with Dog Hair A Sweater From The Dog You Know and Love Than The Sheep You'll Never Meet, Kendall Collier

The Book of Marmalade, C. Anne Wilson

Build Your Own Hindenburg, Alain Rose

How to Avoid Huge Ships, John H. Trimmer

How to Abandon Ship,  Phil Richards and John J. Banigan

Blue Plate Special, the musing of a woman about her food choices, meals, food prep, Kate Christensen

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in A World that Can't Stop Talking, Susan Cain

How to Sharpen Pencils A Practical & Theoretical Treatise on the Artisanal Craft of Pencil Sharpening for Writers, Artists, Contractors, Flange Turners, Anglesmiths, & Civil Servants, David Rees and John Hodgman 

How to Read A Book, Mortimer J. Adler and Charles Van Doren

Suture Self, Mary Durheim

Across Europe by Kangaroo, Joseph R. Barry

The Invention of The Curried Sausage, Ulwe Timon

A Lust for Window Sills, Harry Mount

Soap Through The Ages,  R. Lucock Wilson

SALT a world history,  Mark Kurlansky

How to Build A Cork Boat,  John Pollack

How Tea Cosies Changed The World, Loani Prior

Be Bold with Bananas, Crescent Books

The Devil's Cloth A History of Stripes,  Michel Pastoureant

As  you can see, you CAN find a topic, even obscure, that a publisher will publish.

1 comment:

Max Weismann said...


We are a not-for-profit educational organization, founded by Mortimer Adler and we have recently made an exciting discovery--three years after writing the wonderfully expanded third edition of How to Read a Book, Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren made a series of thirteen 14-minute videos--lively discussing the art of reading. The videos were produced by Encyclopaedia Britannica. For reasons unknown, sometime after their original publication, these videos were lost.

Three hours with Mortimer Adler and Charles Van Doren, lively discussing the art of reading, on one DVD. A must for libraries and classroom teaching the art of reading.

I cannot exaggerate how instructive these programs are--we are so sure that you will agree, if you are not completely satisfied, we will refund your donation.

Please go here to see a clip and learn more:

ISBN: 978-1-61535-311-8

Thank you,

Max Weismann