One of the best books on the craft of writing that I’ve read in a while is Verlyn Klinkenborg’s Several Short Sentences about Writing. Klinkenborg is a non-fiction author and editor, best known for writing about American rural life, who also serves on The New York Times’ editorial board.
His modest title conceals an audacious agenda. Klinkenborg assaults the accepted “wisdom” about writing process and structure, defies received orthodoxies about creativity and style and voice, questions our assumptions about language itself. His punchy, poetic observations about the writing process invited me to slow down, to notice, to create afresh.
One of my favorite of Klinkenborg’s “short sentences” explores what it is that writing is for:
Writing doesn’t prove anything.
And it only rarely persuades.
It does something much better.
It shares your interest in what you’ve noticed.
It reports on the nature of your attention.
It suggests the possibilities
Of the world around you.
The evidence of the world
As it presents itself to you.
Proof is for mathematicians.
Logic is for philosophers.
We have testimony.
He’s right: the best writing attests. Witnesses. Testifies.
This is why I love the Reformed Journal so much. It’s a space where, every single day, women and men bear witness. It’s a space where I can listen to an array of voices testify to Father, Son, and Spirit; goodness, beauty, and truth; past and present; life in all its beauty and ordinariness and tragedy.
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