by John Simmons

John McPhee has been writing beautifully in The New Yorker for more than 50 years. It’s an omission on my part that until my American friend Richard mentioned him yesterday I had never heard of him. Richard sent me the link below and it’s easy to become immediately beguiled by McPhee’s easy-going style. There’s an art in it. Here’s one paragraph.

“Writing is selection. Just to start a piece of writing you have to choose one word and only one from more than a million in the language. Now keep going. What is your next word? Your next sentence, paragraph, section, chapter? Your next ball of fact. You select what goes in and you decide what stays out. At base you have only one criterion: If something interests you, it goes in — if not, it stays out. That’s a crude way to assess things, but it’s all you’ve got. Forget market research. Never market-research your writing. Write on subjects in which you have enough interest on your own to see you through all the stops, starts, hesitations, and other impediments along the way.” Continue reading “Omission”

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