I just finished a new book about writing, GOOD PROSE: The Art of Nonfiction by Tracy Kidder and his editor Richard Todd. This is worth a read for new writers and more established ones. Some of its gems include a chapter on point of view in creative nonfiction as well as a chapter on “Being Edited and Editing.” The work ends with an insightful chapter on usage and grammar, which includes a warning against medical, political and digital age clichés including my own pet peeve—use of “mega” and “giga” and “nano” as prefixes.
The back and forth between the writer and the editor is what delighted this writer the most. We live inside our heads as writers and good editors help us take what’s inside out – freely, unwieldy at times, wildly at other times.
Why does this matter on the 4 of July? In too many places around the world, people are denied basic freedoms of expression – they cannot assembly, speak or write freely. In the United States of America, our Founding Fathers thought it critical to write down what we as Americans are guaranteed in exchange for our good citizenship, our allegiance.“We the People, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” We wrote our Constitution down and have been debating different aspects of it ever. And while we need to remain vigilant about our freedoms, especially in an age of easy surveillance, the Constitution of the United States still stands 237 years later. Today, on the 4th of July, we celebrate our freedom, and I write.