Last Saturday, my son and I made it to Claremont McKenna College’s 37th annual International Festival, where we mostly hung out at the Storytellers area. Toward the end of the festival, I noticed a nearby bookstall selling bags of books for a dollar. I just couldn’t resist. One of the many treasures I grabbed was a slim volume on the art of writing. A college student who saw me snatch the 1965 paperback first edition remarked that she learned so much from the book, which had been assigned in one of her classes. Here’s a sample from a section called “Big Words and Small”:
With such a wealth of words to choose from, poverty of expression is inexcusable. If you dwell in the slums of language, if you refuse to claim your inheritance you have no one to blame but yourself. English is the richest language in the world, and for over a hundred years men [and women] have worked lovingly and patiently to gather it together in dictionary and thesaurus, to explain it and classify it for your convenience, so that you can pick and choose exactly what you want from it for the rest of your life. It is all freely yours, for the taking. You can be a prince or a pauper, depending upon how much of your inheritance you choose to claim. It’s up to you.
–Lucile Vaughan Payne, The Lively Art of Writing (the hardcover is available in its 34th edition from Amazon)