||Oxford University Press
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When I wrote the first edition of this book, I wanted to cram a lot into it. Cookbook became my metaphor: a collection of everything I could think of that was useful and tasty—and set out in self-contained chapters that readers could use in any sequence they want. But now, I see certain coherences I didn't see then. I see first what commentators also noticed most: my so-called "romantic" approach, that is, my emphasis on freewriting, chaos, not planning, mystery, magic, and the intangible. I am still singing this tune. "Just write, trust, don't ask too many questions, go with it. Put your effort into experiencing the tree you want to describe, not on thinking about which words to use. Don't put your attention on quality or critics. Just write." This is the je ne sais quoi dimension of writing. I always want to talk about what cannot quite be analyzed: the sense of voice in writing, the sense of a writer's presence on the page, the quality that makes a reader actually see or experience what you are saying. That is why I use so much indirection and metaphor. I have designed this book so you can either read it straight through or else skip around. That is, I have arranged it in what seems to me the most logical order; you will find some cumulative benefits from reading it in the normal sequence. But I have also made each section and chapter fairly complete in itself so you can thread your own path and find the chapters you need for your particular writing tasks or for your own particular temperament or skills. By reading Section I and the short introductions to the remaining five sections, you will get a good sense of how the whole book works. In addition, almost every chapter ends with a short summary or section of advice which you can consult for more information about what the chapter treats.