I write and edit for a living. Have for years. Most of it is a combination of flackspeak and journalism, short and sweet, avoiding the hyperbole that my client base always wants. I like to imagine I’m channeling Hemingway as I slash away at bloated copy and reduce an item to its essence. (Think the Associated Press Handbook, not the Chicago Manual of Style.) But I occasionally get to write something I’m proud of, something I’ll return to and read and rearrange and tweak and massage just a little. “No good writing, just good rewriting,” I remind myself. Yep, yep. I can do that.
It’s usually at this point that I’ll pick up and read something that smacks me in the forehead and makes me realize I am a hopelessly illiterate hack who should trash her word processing software before she does any more damage to herself or the English language. Annie Dillard’s little burnished diamond “The Maytrees” is my latest lesson in humility. I have a copy of her much-acclaimed and Pulitzer Prize-winning “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek” sitting in one of my to-be-read piles scattered around the house — so many books, so many more distractions — so this was our first encounter. Read the rest of this entry »