I write simply.

I was not a literary major, as anyone who is reading this might gather. I have not had the privilege of a traditional classical education. I am widely read and have loads of life experience, but that doesn’t make for sophisticated narrative.

My training was exactly the opposite, actually. I was an interpreter, reporter and editor for the Department of Defense. Hence, embellishment was punishable by death. Or, at least it felt that way. The facts and only the facts; no exaggeration, no decoration, no expansion of any kind. The use of the correct conjunction, verb and adverb was crucial: possibly and probably took on real meaning for me, for example.

So, when I write, it is usually in the simplest form possible.

Technical writing is, in a way, the art of winnowing down a concept (complex or not) to its least common denominators, and making those as clear as possible to the particular audience. I write that way and always will. I will never sound like an erudite intellectual, it’s just not gonna happen.

There’s a place for me, too. I’ll just have to choose my audience wisely.

© Jan McClintock of We Need More Shelves

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