Tools for Writing

Get thy tools ready,
God will find the work.

Young Girl Writing A Letter by Jonathan Janson

She has this little obsession about the Library of Alexandria.  She's ordered a few books on it from the library and had me print out the Wikipedia article on it so she could scribble her notes all over it.  Now she's asking if "Octavius" or "Andrew" might be names of children  who lived during that time. LizzieBee (dd10) wants to write a book someday, but she's not in a hurry. I think it's this living, this freedom, this lack of urgency that helps nurture the slow process. Her tools are ready.

I like books about writing.  I've read a quite a few and just knowing that there are many, many more out there makes me happy.  Today I'm going to talk about two favorites, one new (for me) and  one old  (for my daughter).

Rumors of Water - thoughts on creativity and writing is l.l. barkat's latest offering.  I knew I would like it as I enjoyed her spiritual memoir, Stone Crossings.  The chapters are short and sweet, each taking a personal experience and segueing into a single point about writing.  The fact that these stories revolve around her daughters and their lives, which includes homeschooling, makes it all the more interesting to me.  Lots of real life and natural advice for the writer in everyone, whether they want to write a book or a blog post.

The next book I want to recommend is one I recently gave to my LizzieBee.  Someday You'll Write by Elizabeth Yates is such a gem for aspiring young writers.  (Note the typewriter on the cover of this 1962 book.)   Just practical tips about how a writer might write a book - namely by paying attention and observing all of life, all the time.  My children's days are already full of writing:  written narrations, journal entries, lists, labels, scraps of story beginnings, etc.  This book lets the student see how one wonderful author  begins the process of writing a book.  Her advice is perfectly compatible to our way of educating and living. I'll  finish with these words of advice from Yates:
Your experience is your own-ness;  it is also your one-ness with the rest of mankind.  Words are the bridge for the writer.  With them one heart reaches to another, one mind is quickened by another, across the span of the centuries or the miles or the little lonelinesses of life.
Young Girl Writing an Email by Jonathan Janson


  1. LOVE this post!
    Absolutely ate it up!
    GREAT new artist for me too.
    I loved Rumors of Water too. I passed this to Laura!

  2. Nancy, these sound like two very useful tools my dd and I could use : D The paintings are wonderful too. So contemporary but yet such a Victorian feel. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Thanks Nancy. I too have a "writing" daughter. She is just 13 and has been writing quite a long story, I am reading it slowly as she gets it typed up.
    I will look up the books, and the artist. I agree with Grace, they are lovely modern paintings!

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  5. Jenny - he is imitating Vermeer. If you click on his name you'll see his other interesting paintings. We had fun looking at our Vermeer prints and seeing what he imitated. Fun!

    Bonnie - thank you!

    Rachael - we talked on fb, so you already know about him!

  6. I was just thinking today about how spelling and grammar and narrations and writing classes and college papers, as engrossing as they are, only provide you with the tools to write, and you still have to make the buildings with them.

    Thanks for sharing! I like how you say that a book grows slowly out of a life of observation. I also enjoy books about writing, so I will add Yates's to my list!

  7. Tim - 'Tis so true! Oh, and I enjoyed your latest offering over at the CLUSA blog. You know, with the citizenship angle and all...

  8. I love this post, Nancy. Thanks for sharing.

  9. I will check these books out! My daughter is showing interest in writing also. And I just found that quote you shared on FB a little time ago - "it is much easier to work a class of twenty, all doing the same thing, than a school of five children in three different classes..". Anyway, thanks for sharing your knowledge ~ much appreciated!

  10. Linda,
    You are welcome!

    it is fun when you stumble across those quotes on your own, isn't it? Thanks form the kind words!

  11. Nancy, I tried to find that quote by Browning and found it under Charles Kingsley. Do you have where that is from?

    Thanks. I ordered Someday You'll Write. I'm rereading Barbara Ueland's If You Want to Write.

  12. Bonnie,
    Hmmm!! In Yates' book that I mention above, page 5, she starts the chapter with this quote and attributes it to Browning. I also see on the internet it being attributed to Kingsley. A little further sleuthing is needed, I think. Let me know if you come up with something conclusive. I will look into it later. Thanks for pointing that out - the internet can be handy for such things!

    I will look up your Ueland book, too!

  13. I figured something like that. I wondered if it was a line from a Browning poem so wanted to read the rest of it! That's all.

    Ueland's book may be in your public library. It was in Charlotte's library but isn't now! That is a sign of the times.

  14. Bonnie:
    Outside of the Yates' book, I found this mention of the quote - "Yet according to Raymond's own view he had not done the things he intended to do but rather unconsciously obeyed the maxim of Browning to 'Get thy tools ready;God will find thee work'"

    That was found in, of all places, the 1919 Engineering and Mining Journal which you can see at Google Books. Go figure.

    If you ever come across anything solid, even for the Kingsley attribution, let me know!