Monday, September 2, 2013

Zinsser on work

William Zinsser on the work of writing and other kinds of work:

I’ve never defined myself as a writer, or, God forbid, an author. I’m a person — someone who goes to work every morning, like the plumber or the television repairman, and who goes home at the end of the day to think about other things. . . .

It may seem perverse that I compare my writing to plumbing, an occupation not regarded as high-end. But to me all work is equally honorable, all crafts an astonishment when they are performed with skill and self-respect. Just as I go to work every day with my tools, which are words, the plumber arrives with his kit of wrenches and washers, and afterward the pipes have been so adroitly fitted together that they don’t leak. I don’t want any of my sentences to leak. The fact that someone can make water come out of the faucet on the 10th floor strikes me as a feat no less remarkable than the construction of a clear declarative sentence.

“Life and Work: Why Plumbers Are Good Role Models for Writers,” in The Writer Who Stayed (Philadelphia: Paul Dry Books, 2012).
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