Thursday, August 12, 2010

Writing Well

Doc is only a couple of years younger than we are, so he and I have traveled a similar path through the last 20-years of our life.  As I previously mentioned, we like to shoot the breeze when he checks me out each year. 

During my last visit with Doc our conversation touched the subject of diversions and hobbies.  I told him I’ve been a collector of first one thing and then another for most of my life, but I’ve been selling things off in recent years, mostly through eBay. These days I mostly collect words and pictures for use in things I write.  Stuff competes for living space, requires special care, and presents an ongoing risk of loss.  Words and picture files don’t.  He smiled.

The words I like to collect are those that speak to me, written by accomplished writers.  William Safire (above) was one of those kinds of writers; one whose words were so very well crafted.  Charles Krauthammer seems to be his worthy successor; Dorothy Rabinowitz is a powerful writer; James Jones, William Manchester, Ernie Pyle, and Andy Rooney strung together words that illuminate the WWII experience better than most I’ve read.

A film script line from the Knight’s Tale, attributed to Chaucer speaks to the ultimate power of words crafted by an agitated wordsmith.  Standing naked in front of his tormentors, he says, “I will eviscerate you in fiction.  Every pimple, every character flaw.  I was naked for a day; you will be naked for eternity.”

William Safire left behind an embroidered pillow expressing a similar sentiment...

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