Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Goodbye and Thank You, William Zinsser

There are people who like to look up and those who don't – which is to say, those who take pleasure in admiring/respecting/appreciating truly special people, and those who relish looking down on everybody.

My dear mother, who taught me to love language, also taught me to look up. I rant on this blog so much you might not think of me as someone with heroes, but I have quite a few. I like to look up. There are many writers I look up to. But above them all, my favorite teacher of writing was writer and teacher William Zinsser, who just died at age 92.

I’m not sad; he had a long, productive, and apparently rewarding, happy life. He also helped countless writers and teachers of writing with his great book, On Writing Well. I’ve read it through several times over the years and still refer to it often. If you are a reader, a writer, or just a lover of language used splendidly and you’ve never read On Writing Well, I heartily encourage you to pick up this slim, fulsome paperback.

And for your reference, here’s Zinsser's New York Times obituary. Doesn’t he sound like someone you’d like to know? I’m sorry I never got to meet him. But I got to learn from him, and for that I’m grateful.

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