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Stories have arcs. Characters have arcs. Writers have arcs. We write, we get better at our craft. We read, we get better at our craft. We interact with other writers, we get better at our craft. The Arc of a Writer is a blog about writing. Visit regularly for thoughts, ideas, and information about writing. Whether you are a professional writer or just starting out. Hobby or career. We are all in this together. Welcome.

Contact: Elena Hartwell - elenahartwell@gmail.com

Visit my website: elenahartwell.com

Spotlight on Richard Lederer


Richard Lederer is the author of 50 books about language, history, and humor, including his best-selling Anguished English series and his current books, Amazing Words, Lederer on Language, and Monsters Unchained!

Dr. Lederer’s syndicated column, “Lederer on Language,” appears in newspapers and magazines throughout the United States, including the San Diego Union-Tribune, and he is a founding co-host of “A Way With Words” on KPBS Public Radio. He has been named International Punster of the Year and Toastmasters International’s Golden Gavel winner.

Questions for this month's Spotlight Writer? Contact him at: richardhlederer@gmail.com.

To learn more about Richard Lederer, click HERE to view his interview on Forefront -- a half-hour video on the life of a "Verbivore." 

Richard recently performed his show: The Lighter Side of Language” as a benefit for the Coronado Playhouse (San Diego, CA) May 9th and 10th. Keep watch on his website for future events.

The Interview -- Part II

Scroll Down for Part I
What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview but never were? 
How do you keep active and sharp at age 77? I’m glad I asked me that. First, my daily history quizzes and weekly installments of “Lederer on Language” in the U-T and my monthly contributions to a number of magazines keep me unremittingly active in earning a living through the sweat of my brain. Second, I play vigorous tennis thrice a week. We believe that solving crossword puzzles and Sudoku are good for the brain, but we’re absolutely sure that exercise really helps. Finally, I play serious Texas Hold’em at least twice a week. I’m often the least quantitative guy at the table, but I’ve done my homework. Playing poker has stimulated the part of my mind wherein I’m not a natural and has stimulated the axons, dendrites, ganglia and synapses that I ordinarily don’t use. The result is a larger brain that is now better at mat and is better at the wordwork I was already pretty good at.  
What are you working on now?

I’m always working on my U-T columns and my magazine articles, and I’m just finishing up writing a book titled Challenging Words. It’s a book that reflects my love of academic linguistics. When I earned my Ph.D. in linguistics, the scientific study of language, I was powerfully drawn to the academic, deep-structure aspects of language but decided to become a user-friendly popularize of language. I believe that I made the right decision, but I’m pleased to have just completed a book that captures the more cerebral past of my love for language.

Final Words of Wisdom

Life is an amazing gift. Make every effort to blow up the distance between who you are and what you do, and you will be possessed of infinite energy and never work a day in your life. Try to find out why you were placed on this planet and you will never work a day in your life.


The Interview -- Part I

You are incredibly prolific. Do you have a daily writing schedule? Or does it vary from day to day? Tell us about your writing process.
To be a writer, one must behave as writers behave. They write. And write. And write. The difference between a writer and a wannabe is that a writer is someone who can’t not write, while a wannabe says, “One of these days when . . ., then I’ll. . . .” Unable not to write, I write almost every day.
I write whenever I can. Genetic and environmental roulette has allowed me to work in either a silent or a noisy environment. I’m a speaker as well as a writer, so phone calls and faxes and e-messages chirp and hum and buzz in my writing room, and I often have to answer them during those precious morning hours. That’s all right with me. Fictionalists shut the world out. Fictionalists live with their imaginary characters, who get skittish and may flee a noisy room. As I cobble my essays, my readers are my companions, and they will usually stay with me in my writing space through outerworldly alarms and excursions.
Despite your deep and inherent love of words and language, you set out to go to medical school and then law school/ What sent you in other directions before you decided to become a verbivore full time?
My father and mother had sixth- and tenth-grade educations, so, quite understandably, they wanted me to be a doctor or a lawyer. As a premedical; student at Haverford College and then a law student at Harvard, I found myself reading the chemistry formulae and law cases for their literary value. 
Luckily, I heard the call of “It’s the language, stupid” and became an English major and English teacher. In my books, radio broadcasts, and performances, I celebrate language as the hallmark of the human experience. I believe that not only do human beings have language; we are language. I’m a special fan of the English language – the most widely spoken tongue in the history of humankind, possessing the most prodigious and democratic vocabulary and, at the same time, the wiggiest spelling and zaniest contradictions ever concocted. I love playing with a language in which you drive in a parkway and park in a driveway -- and your nose can run and your feet can smell.
Your public speaking calendar is as full as your publication list. How does your writing feed your speaking and your speaking feed your writing? (Or is it all feeding your teaching?)
Samuel Johnson, who gave us the first great dictionary of the English language, wrote, ““I am not yet so lost in lexicography, as to forget that words are the daughters of earth and . . . the sons of heaven.” I am a writer who joneses for frequent contact with people, and I’m a speaker who learns a lot through such contact and joneses to transfer that learning to print.

And yes, it is all teaching. Teachers are compulsive sharers, and I want to share what abilities I may possess in every way that I can—print, radio, TV, and in public forums.
Check back May 15 for Part II