My true love is the essay, often 650 words short, perfect for today's time-addled attention spans and ideal to the task of conveying big ideas in small spaces.
I work with you to sharpen your message, tell your stories, discover your voice, and achieve your goals, whatever they may be. I can be your writer, your editor, or just your coach.
I've written everything from white papers to case studies to research reports to a book. I've founded, edited and published a well-respected trade journal and a popular newsletter. I'm a blogger, a jogger and like a good lager.
Without a doubt, my favorite art form is the short, sweet essay. Yes, it is challenging to say a lot in just a few words, but that's what makes it so magical. It's a journey that takes us places we never would have otherwise imagined.
“Write a lot about a little,” he said, his twinkly blue eyes twinkling,“not a little about a lot.” What did he mean, exactly? It sounded nonsensical, or at the very least paradoxical. I knew my Uncle Bill’s intent, and yet conflicting interpretations lurked within.
Write a lot about a little: okay, that’s not hard to understand. Take a deep dive into a narrow space. It’s easy to appreciate the wisdom. Knowing what you intend to say and taking that to full expression is good advice.
Not a little about a lot: sounds like just the opposite. Is it, really? Writing a little about a lot could also mean taking a deep dive into a narrow space. It all depends on whether “a little” is the narrow space and “a lot” is the deep dive. Or not.
It’s so funny how a few words, spoken a long time ago, can resonate so strongly, guide habits, and capture the imagination. Maybe it’s the tension between telegraphed authority and nuanced meaning.
His gentle brown eyes flashed intensity. “Brevity is better,” he said. I knew what my father was saying, and that it was more complicated than it sounded. His point was basically a ruthlessly edited take on George Bernard Shaw’s famous quote.
What it lacked in wit, it made up in, well, brevity.
To assert your voice, some of your lovely words must die. Or as as Blaise Pascal, the French philosopher and mathematician said: “Je n’ai fait celle-ci plus longue que parce que je n’ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte.” Translation: “I have made this longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter.”
This is the beauty of the essay, from the French verb essayer, meaning “to try.” An essay can be long. It should try to be short, as Shaw, Pascal, my father, and probably Uncle Bill would agree, because brevity is the soul of clarity. The fewer the words, the more likely to be read, understood and remembered.
Is that a little about a lot or a lot about a little?
In that spirit, this essay is titled, “500 Words.” It measures 134 words short.