Sunday, November 23, 2003

Advice, Simple and Free

"'Tis a gift to be simple; 'tis a gift to be free." So goes the old Shaker hymn, which started ringing in my sleep-addled brain as I perused another's blog this morning. I've learned to pay attention to sticky tunes. They crop up mysteriously, but always for a reason.

SovereignRabble is correct when he says that not everyone is a good writer. But I have to disagree sharply with his assessment of what a good writer is, and how to become one.

How did David Sedaris get to be David Sedaris? For starters, he met Ira Glass. But getting a break doesn’t belie his talent, which I’ll wager he honed by writing every day. Peruse his material (or Jerry Seinfeld’s, for that matter) and notice how adroitly he gleans both humor and insight from everyday happenings. (Or, in SR’s less flattering terms, how he “attach[es] grandiose value to near meaningless observations or meaningless ruminations.")

‘Tis a gift to be simple… or a writer of clear, concise prose. ‘Tis a gift to be free…and, whatever his wobbly aesthetic, SovereignRabble is free to hold whatever misguided opinions he likes.

Good writing relies on so much more than good grammar. But since SR worries in another post about pronouns, I feel obliged to point out the error in “You are not him.” (Which makes me think of whimpering Moultrie from The Left-Handed Gun, but that’s another story.) The correct phrase is “You are not he.” You use the subject pronoun “he” because it is the predicate nominative of the subject, “you.” You are not he. See? Nor am I he. But shouldn’t we strive to be more than…wee?


Post a Comment

<< Home