|It doesn’t take a new school year to learn, and keep learning, how to elevate our journalism. All you have to do is read, watch and listen the story work being produced day after day. Two of my favorites this past week…
DAVID McCULLOUGH, considered by many to be the best historical biographer of recent times, died this past week (Sunday, Aug. 7, 2022) at 89. In an obituary by Daniel Lewis of The New York Times, McCullough’s lessons live on, often in his own voice. Consider this summary of how he viewed his craft:
“I think of writing history as an art form,” Mr. McCullough said in an interview for “Painting With Words,” a short 2008 documentary about him on HBO. “And I’m striving to write a book that might — might — qualify as literature. I don’t want it just to be readable. I don’t want it just to be interesting. I want it to be something that moves the reader. Moves me.”
Lewis went on to summarize other things that made McCullough’s work special:
He went a step further, inhabiting his characters like an actor preparing for a role. While writing “The Great Bridge,” he grew a beard, like the engineer Washington Roebling. Working on “Truman,” he formed the habit of taking brisk early morning walks, just as the president had done.
But my favorite bit was the mention of a small writing ritual that paid big rewards:
Throughout his career Mr. McCullough and his wife would read his early drafts aloud to each other — a practice he credited with improving his writing enormously.