Monday, April 19, 2010

On brevity

I liked the terseness of my last headline: On Lateness.

Watched the amazing Michael Kinsley interviewed on TV. He had deep brain stimulation for his Parkinson's disease and reports being better. The treatise he's known for is: Keep it short. Believes that books are way too long to read. That editors require too many supporting quotes and research and it detracts from the reader's enjoyment -- and patience -- of reading something.

A revelation! Just wrote a 'less than 200-word' Letter to the Editor today. I tried to artfully compose a statement in that short space.

Am also finishing up a 'less than 700-word' Guest Column for The Intelligencer. Something indeed to be said for brevity, for packing it all in deftly and visually in less than 5 reading minutes.

Round bout 3 o'clock, I started craving a nap. Hadn't done a lick of physical work all day save for forcibly cleaning out my polenta pot, yet I was tired as an old dog napping in the sun.

Just one more thing to do, I said. Just write that letter to Harvey and then you can take your nap.

Well, I finished the letter to Harvey, and I realized I hadn't done something else.... so I said, Surely, Ruth, you can finish that up before you take your nap.

It began to sound like a children's book where the papa can't take his nap.

Finally, at 5 o'clock, I went over Scott's who was already under the covers. The couple who naps together stays together. I put on American Splendor, nudged him and said, "I'll be asleep before you will" -- I always am, but he got an hour in before I drove him to the train at 8 p.m. to go to work.

Is this post adhering to the title? Is it possible for Ruthie to stop typing once she gets started? Don't worry. She'll stop typing but she won't stop thinking. The mind always goes. It's always on.

Reward yourself immediately by listening to Father and Son sing Purcell's Sound the Trumpet. And for pete's sake, pronounce Purcell the correct way: PURsell.


  1. Good point, Ruth. I think I have been writing too long in my blog. I should try to make it more brief. Trouble is, I don't have time. It's easier and quicker to write long than to write short.

  2. you're right, bill, that it's easier just to keep writing and not to stop. good point! in your case, however, your many fans -- including myself -- love the length of your posts. as i never tire of saying, yours is the best blog i have yet to read!!!