Sean Mann expected around 300 people for Detroit City FC’s first ever game in 2012 against AFC Cleveland. Instead, over 1,000 people showed up for the 1-1 tie with the eventual playoff champions.
Mann and his fellow co-founders knew they had something special. “It was obvious right away that there was interest in soccer in the city,” says Mann.
And since then, things have only gotten better. With the team about to enter its sixth year, Detroit City FC (alternatively, DCFC or City or Le Rouge) has improved in basically every metric. In attendance, for example, the team has grown every year—in 2016, the team averaged over 5,000 fans per home game. It renovated and relocated to a bigger stadium. Its operations have continued to become more seasoned. Its fans have gotten more sophisticated in their show of support. And it’s accomplished this all while maintaining the club’s distinctive culture and voice.
DCFC has been one of the great American success stories in both amateur sports and soccer. Now they’re exploring a jump to professional status.
The essence of this book can be found in the first sentence of the second chapter, titled “Simplicity,” where Zinsser writes, “Clutter is the disease of American writing.” In the next paragraph, he adds, “The secret of good writing is to strip every sentence to its cleanest components.”
These two sentences make his point effectively; they are clean, direct. Every facet of good writing for Zinsser contains a kernel of this “secret.” It’s honest, confident, free of euphemism and overstatement, has little concern for its audience, and does only necessary work. On the period: “There’s not much to be said about the period except that most writers don’t reach it soon enough.” Just look at some of these chapter titles: Style, Words, Usage, Unity, The Lead, The Ending, etc. Zinsser practices what he preaches.
During bouts of procrastination, I often read books on writing, which fill two purposes depending on my mood: they either inspire me to get back to writing, or make me feel like a writer without actually writing. Despite the latter’s drawback, I’ve gained a lot from books on writing. They’ve helped me shape what good habits I maintain, provided doses of confidence and inspiration, and taught me useful methods for improving my craft and developing my style.
Writing books vary in quality and content. Though I have stuck to the most widely read books in the genre, I do think some are wortheir than others. But since writing will improve your craft far more than reading about it, I hope this entry helps you select the most appropriate book(s) for your particular struggles, then use the rest of your time for writing.
Generally writing books can be divided into two kinds: inspirational and technical. The former category deals with harnessing the writer’s elusive muse and cultivating it, so that you can be creative at your conveience and not the muse’s. The latter category offers tips for clarity, proper expression, and converting the writer’s ideas into the most concise means possible. Inspirational books are primarily for the writer of fiction, technical books for nonfiction. But there’s plenty of crossover between the two and no book I’ve read lies completely in one category. A fiction writer, for example, could still gain a great deal from Zinsser’s On Writing Well, despite its subtitle, “An informal guide to writing nonfiction.”
Nonetheless, I’ve divided this entry into two sections and separated the books depending on which way they lean.
Life is a continuous struggle to quiet the mind. This is an ancient belief, at least as old as Buddhism.
Our brains emit an endless stream of commentary for an audience of one that has the illusion of being a conversation. People who lack social awareness — because of abnormal brain chemistry (insanity), because it’s no longer necessary (isolation), or because they don’t care (eccentricity) — conduct these conversations out loud, often to the amusement or confusion to those around them. In a talk for his book Waking Up, Sam Harris says, “Imagine if other people could hear your thoughts broadcast on a speaker all day long. You would seem completely insane.”
It’s also insane that we give this fickle lecturer any credence. But we do. We let this voice affect they way we feel and the construction of our self-image. And unfortunately, most often he’s a critic. According to productivity expert David Allen, “80% of what you say to yourself in your head is negative.”
This is an old post I wrote on my defunct blog about comedy.
Recently I had an unsuccessful improv audition.
Around 80 improvisors auditioned for 8 slots in one of our local theater’s “Launch Group.” Selection means a period of intensive improv training and coaching followed by a performance every Sunday night for a year. It’s a prestigious and sought after spot, not only because people emerge a year later as seasoned improvisors, but also because it’s a stepping stone in our little scene to more shows and a potential invitation to a resident cast.
I did very well in the initial, closed-door audition and got a call back along with 18 others. We performed in 3 groups in front of a live, sold-out house. Rarely are there actual stakes at an improv show and it showed in the general nervous energy of us improvisors before taking the stage.
It also manifested itself, for me at least, in a more pronounced desire to “do well.” That nagging, background eagerness caused me to try too hard. I didn’t listen well and inserted myself a couple of times when it wasn’t necessary. In other words, I was out there for me and didn’t collaborate nearly as well as I should have.