Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Anton Chekhov on copywriting.

I am reading a book now by Rachel Polonsky--a long, magisterial book on Russian history called "Molotov's Magic Lantern: Travels in Russian History." Last night I read a bit about Chekhov, whose story "Gooseberries" is one of my favorites and probably one of the great works of Russian literature. (If you have fifteen minutes to spare, you can read it here:

Here's a bit I liked from Polonsky's prose--a bit that made me think about the work--such as it is--that we are paid to create. In this portion, Chekhov is explaining to a friend of his "inexperience at writing at length, his 'constant and ingrained fear of writing too much.' Writing in longer form was something he said he simply 'did not know how to do.'"

And now the coupe de grace: "to be laconic is ethically correct, that brevity in the temporal art of writing fits our place in the word, for we are small creatures and should not try to be bigger than we are, nor tire one another, for time and space are tiring enough."

I think about this, about writing too long, speaking too much.

I wish more people would, too.

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