[BTW: Self-aggrandizement alert]
I believe many reading this site will have already checked out Ta-Nehisi Coates much discussed “Fear of a Black President,” the cover essay in the September issue of The Atlantic. If not, go check it out, it is smart, rich, and a fine piece of prose style.
As some of you may know, I have the pleasure of calling Ta-Nehisi my colleague this year — he’s teaching at MIT as a Martin Luther King Jr. Visiting Professor. Better yet, his office is literally across the hall from mine, so we chat fairly often.
On the matter of “Fear of a Black President,” that exchange became more formal. I was struck when I first read the piece by some the craft choices Ta-Nehisi and his editors had made in putting together that long and complex piece of writing. So I asked Ta-Nehisi if he’d be willing to talk about the writing choices he had made, questions of structure and approach. He was, and we had two sessions with a digital recorder running. Unsurprisingly, we couldn’t confine ourselves to technical writing issues: you make choices about how to write something based on what you’re writing about and what you intend your words to do. So we talked about the evolution of the themes and meaning of the piece as well as questions of approach or organization.
Fast forward a couple of weeks, and, as you can now check out the edited outcome of all this over at the Nieman Storyboard site. (The Nieman site is a great resource for both aspiring and established journalists and writers btw, if that’s where your interests lead.)
And with that, how’s the weekend shaping up?
Pieter de Hooch, Conversation, 1663-1665.
Cross posted at Inverse Square