How to Write Good

Only an idiot would write a column like this. So I will try hard.

Perhaps the best thing ever written about writing was wrote (Mark Twain accepts this grammatical construction) OK, written, by the French playwright Moliere (1622-1673):

Writing is like prostitution:

First you do it for love

then you do it for a few friends,

and then finally you do it for money.

Living under the Soviet government, Mikhail Bulgakov wrote:

I hate editors. All editors. I shall hate them until the day I die.

Mark Twain said:

Napoleon once shot and killed a publisher. But he was aiming at an editor. His intentions were good.

Why do writers hate editors?

The answer lies here:

An editor, a reporter and a photographer were walking along a beach and the photographer stumbled over a rock. The reporter picked it up and it was not a rock, but a sort of bronze lump. The reporter wiped off the sand with a shirtsleeve and — poof! — a genie jumps out of the lamp.

          “Masters!” she says with joy. “You have liberated me from my prison! I will grant each of you one wish.”

          The reporter said: “I want to be on a Tahitian island 400 years ago, where they worshiped white men and all the women wanted to have sex with them, and the men didn’t mind if they did.”

And — poof! — the reporter disappeared.

          The photographer said: “I’d like to be on top of the tallest mountain in Antarctica on the clearest day of the year, with all my cameras and lenses, an hour before the sun comes up, with lovely young women feeding me beer.”

And — poof! — the photographer disappeared.

          The editor looked at his watch and said: “I want those guys back here in five minutes.”

Kurt Vonnegut told a pretty good joke about copy editors. It’s not a great joke, but hey, can we, as species Homo Sapiens, really demand a killer joke about copy editors?

No, my friends, we cannot. And if we did demand it, who would we ask?

Vonnegut maintained that the best joke ever told was the guy who dreamed he was eating flannel cakes and when he woke up his blanket was gone.

Be that here or there, for the future of the United States, for Freedom Around the World, may I tell you Kurt Vonnegut’s joke about copy editors:

A guy walks in to a restaurant and orders a bowl of soup. The waiter delivers it. The guy starts eating his soup, then lifts up his head and whistles for the waiter. The entire restaurant is alarmed.

          White Guy: Waiter! There’s a needle in my soup!

          Waiter: I’m sorry, Sir. That’s a typographical error. It should be a noodle.

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