Writing and impressing the reader

By both natural proclivity and training, I’m not only nuts about reading but also concerned about what the writing process does to and says about the one providing that which can be read by others. This morning’s email brought a message from a friend who could not sort out one of the sentences I constructed here yesterday (and kindly sought a more private inquiry than flogging me in the public of this blog). I responded with a reconstruction, but my response bounced back so, if she is reading this today, please know that your inquiry did allow me to rework and send you a better (that is to say, a more transparent) version of the thought.

Today’s local paper has several slightly strange examples of writing for this reader. The front page headline–now, mind you, this is a daily newspaper, a kind of traditional journalism given on this continent to reporting facts and opinions–reports “Casino layoffs rumoured.” Wouldn’t the purpose of the reporter’s work include either substantiating or negating a rumour, rather than simply reporting that there is a rumour? The headline–and ensuing article which doesn’t seem to come down on the rumour as either true or false–makes the halves of my brain crunch together.

But I don’t have far to go before coming to another bit of interesting reporting. Yesterday’s news included the report of a prisoner escaping custody during transport from jail to a local hospital in spite of being “secured” by both handcuffs and leg irons. Today’s paper reports assorted details of the story: the apparent ease with which such “leg irons” can be removed, the prisoner’s past escape history, etc. The fellow in question seems to have been involved in a variety of armed robberies, instances of terrorizing people at gunpoint and confining store employees, leading to the assessment in one of these follow-up articles that he has “anger management problems.” Now there is a description that can hardly be accused of taking a sledge hammer to an ant!

Some stories about writers, however, impress me as much as their written work. Yesterday’s SF Chronicle carried such a story. Award winning teen playwright Katie Henry talks about an experience she had with plagiarism, her thoughts about further humiliating the plagiarist, and her realization that a high road appealed to her instead. Punishment had been visited on the perpetrator; it was time for the writer to move on with writing instead of engaging in a pastime of victim. That’s pretty darn admirable! I only wish I could go to see Ms. Henry’s play at the Berkeley Rep.


One Response to “Writing and impressing the reader”

  1. heidi Says:

    ah, the canadian legal system. they’re not too fussy about being punitive. i think a life sentence amounts to around 10 years.

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