In Lauren Slater’s introduction to The Best American Essays of 2006 she writes lucidly about the art of the essay. Here’s my favorite thought:
Essay writing is not about facts, although the essay may contain facts. Essay writing is about transcribing the often convoluted process of thought, leaving your own brand of breadcrumbs in the forest so that those who want to can find their way to your door.
Yum. Or how about this, in response to the uproar over her book Opening Skinner’s Box (which I read last year and enjoyed):
Being the object of such predation over an extended period of time has led me to think a lot about the critical role of kindness in writing and in life. It has led me to see that I…have in the past written pieces with too much tooth, something the press generally rewards. I no longer write this way. I cannot abide ill will in my own work, and I dislike it when I see it in the work of others. I now believe that good writing, and good living, must have a core of gentleness.
Good living must have a core of gentleness. I like it.