Wednesday, May 19

omit needless words!

The volume of writing is enormous, these days, and much of it has a sort of windiness about it, almost as though the author were in a state of euphoria. "Spontaneous me," sang Whitman, and in his innocence let loose the hordes of uninspired scribblers who would one day confuse spontaneity with genius.

I found a copy of Strunk and White's Elements of Style today. After skimming its 60-some pages, I agree with its broad attitude, if not with all of its minor technical opinions. The exact placement of commas in quotations or of apostrophes following possessive nouns might be important conventions, but conventions they remain. Brevity and clarity, on the other hand, are virtues no matter how the language evolves.

 

Walking home, I stopped and sat on the stadium steps. Across the street was a building with an interesting roof, so I started a line drawing.

I liked the roof.

That one slanted line with the squiggles just down and to the right a square and a half? That is supposed to indicate the ceiling of a recessed porch. It has a railing and sort of heavy mesh screens around the edges. I have a problem with angles and perspective - my diagonal lines are always off. Usually they're too steep rather than too shallow. The whole incline of the roof is less drastic than I drew it. Maybe I'm just compensating for the hard-earned knowledge that they're always steeper than they look from the ground.