Words and thoughts on writing…and lending

March 1, 2009

When you write about writing you’re causing the universe to implode a little. It’s like talking about giving speeches or sweeping up the floor of a broom factory. But the discussion must happen because so few people know how to use the written word to communicate.

Take a look at Twitter feeds, emails, faxes and even letters. The best written forms are the ones that take the most effort. Whip off a missive via electronic means and you’re disinclined to connect with it the way you would when snagging a $4 card from the shelf at CVS and writing down some thoughts about birth, death, injury, layoffs, marriages or moves.

So I was thrilled when my friend Steve asked me today – in an electronic missive – to let him borrow a book.

Not because I like lending my stuff, but because the book he was asking for is the definitive guide to proper writing…The Chicago Manual of Style.

It’s ironic (look up what that means) that a book that shows/tells/instructs how to write well – and has been a newspaper journalist’s reference guide for decades – is in such demand now that newspapers are going under. But it’s also heartening.

I want people to write well. Not because I’m a stickler for who’s and whose and whom’s, but because if people communicate more clearly we’re likely going to avoid misunderstandings, expand our horizons, learn more about each other and generally be happier.

Steve, please be happy with the lease of my book. I know you’ll respect and learn from it. And best of luck on your foray into the world of publishing.

Keep reading!