I have rather a lot of classes which require me to write functionally. Lovely prose is deemed unprofessional, unproductive and a waste of time. You can probably chart my enjoyment of a class by how much creativity I am allowed in how I write for it. Sometimes professors tell you to “write like it’s for a technical paper” or “the New York Times”. By this they mean: just the facts, ma’am.
It used to be nearly impossible for me to write that way. Now I have found a kind of cold joy in writing legal briefs–knowing I am precisely accurate in what I say and what I mean. But to characterize that kind of writing as like the New York Times does a disservice to the New York Times, as David Park’s Opinion on the shootings in Northern Ireland showed today. Here is one of the most tear-jerking posts:
But something quite remarkable has happened in this country as the hours have turned into days. It started with ordinary people interviewed on television and radio who invariably expressed an abhorrence of “returning” or “going back.” At first it was clearly the product of a deep-seated fear of regression towards the abyss, a fear that the peace process itself would crack asunder with the impact of violence, but then the fear turned to anger — an anger that a small group of fanatics with little or no popular support should seek to subvert the will of the people of Ireland.
Across towns and cities people of all traditions assembled to protest in dignified but powerful silence. There was a constant reiteration that what had been achieved could not now be lost, that a peace process, for all its problems, could not be usurped and subverted by the gun.
Wow. There were passages more flowery, and some more expositive, but these images brought me near to tears. It is good to know someone appreciates good writing.
“If the doctor told me I had six minutes to live, I’d type a little faster.”–Isaac Asimov