McClellan, Writing and Truth

(8 am – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Is this a Judas move? So asks Bill O’Reilly:

Milder reactions have emanated from the White House, ranging from being “puzzled”, intimating that McClellan didn’t write this book because it “doesn’t sound like him, it sounds like a left-wing blogger”, that this is an “out of body experience”, that McClellan was “disgruntled”, that “something dramatically has changed”, that the editor “tweaked some things in the past few months” and “wrote a lot of it”…

…and on, and on, and on.

But the process of writing is sitting in front of a blank screen, staring into one’s soul.

You can’t lie to yourself when you write (well, you can try but it won’t be very good or very convincing, either to yourself or to others). If eyes are the windows to the soul, the written word is its kitchen, bathroom and entire floorplan.

Good writers – and it indeed sounds like McClellan is a good writer as he’s been able to strike a national chord using his own words – write to their audience. Past experiences are a matter of personal reflection, conversations with knowledgeable sources, research, and several long, meditative walks. A good writer understands who he or she is writing to, knows how to communicate the message that he or she wants to send to this target audience and understands that once the words are sent into the public discourse there’s no taking them back. A good writer is a careful writer, choosing words as carefully as a photographer selects just the right lighting, or a chef shops for the freshest ingredients.

Good writers are also frugal writers. They use a minimum of words or evocative metaphors to convey a point, and once conveyed they move on. They write in layers, understanding that each adjective, each adverb, each noun may be used to foreshadow another motif that has yet to be fully introduced. They show more than tell, revealing the worlds of their conscience in stages, much like a realtor starting with the front porch and working his way through the house to the privacy of the bedrooms.

But above all good writers must write. They have stories to tell and they need to share these stories with others. Regardless of whether the timing is auspicious, or inconvenient, or just plain wrong, once the work is finished a good writer is itching to get it read by as many people as quickly as possible.

What is missing from the discussion of McClellan’s book is a simple understanding of who writers are and what they do. Scott McClellan was a White House Press Secretary at a time when most of the nation was awakening to the truth of this administration, being slapped in the face by events like Katrina and then understanding that this was not just one unfortunate episode of ball-dropping, but indicative of the competence and priorities of the folks working in the West Wing.

It is not unimaginable that this uncomfortable clarity entered into McClellan’s life at the same time it intruded into the lives of so many other Americans. As White House Press Secretary professionalism dictated that he kept these doubts in the quiet of his own mind.

As a writer these doubts manifested themselves in black and white, for the world to see.

A good writer couldn’t have written this book any other way.

22 comments

Skip to comment form

    • RiaD on May 30, 2008 at 03:47
  1. Just had to get that out of the way, lol.

    Intriguing speculation here, grannyhelen.

    Haven’t read the book and only a few excerpts, so I don’t really have a judgment on McClellan as a writer.  Nor do I know if he had a ghost-writer.

    Very interesting slant, tho … thanks for this.

    • Mu on May 30, 2008 at 14:04

    This clown can’t get finished with one sentence wherein he hails (or “heils”, as the case may be) his “no spinniness” re:  the Bush Tragicomedy, before he’s doin’ yet another big whine about this or that person, or blog, or t.v. show, dissin’ on his Poor Li’l Georgie.  

    I’d like a nickel for every metric ton of skin-tone make up O’Reilly goes through in a week to cover up his brown, brown nose (noting that that’s the only brown skin he truly loves; of course, understands that he can hardly wear it in public while puking-forth Dobbsian hate about all things less-than-lilly white).

    Mu . . .

     

    • kj on May 30, 2008 at 15:48

    scurrying rats, the lot of ’em.  

  2. Barry Nolan vs. Bill O’Reilly

    O’Reilly got a regional (New England) Emmy called a “Governor’s Award” — the highest honor by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.

    Barry Nolan objected, and got fired for quietly & persistently doing so at the Emmy.

    My piece includes original content from speaking with Barry.

  3. and telling the truth.

    Scottie, it seems, has reduced the burden he carried all those years, has reduced that nagging guilt he’s had due to his complicity in the warmongering and treasonous activity of 2003.

    Now it’s time for Scottie to tell some truth. Under oath. With his ex-coworkers at the defendant’s table.

    Writing a book is fine, but criminals are not supposed to profit from their crimes. If he is, as he asserts, simply an unwitting dupe in crimes committed by his superiors he should not resist the subpoena.

    His security clearance gives him the right to ask for amnesty from self incrimination.

    Shall I hold my breath waiting for indictments?

  4. while your living it, emerged in a story unfolding. At some juncture your personal story melds with the main plot. In Scotties case he choose long ago to believe that a mad faux Texan, was a ‘good man’ a worthy leader of the world. It is an interesting turn of events and history. The man who hitched his dim weak star to the nasty damaged scion of a Machiavellian dynasty is telling the tale of all the true believers, the deluded? loyalists.

    Week after week he came to the podium to impart his messages from the regime who took us down this dark path. He seemed another soulless lockstep idiot from hell. “I cannot comment on an ongoing investigation…next”

    The blank screen has been filled but what is revealed is the lack of a soul. His floor plan won’t allow him to go down to the basement and look at the darkness that this house was built on. He can’t see that the foundation is rotten. History before my eyes turning on the real story of the millions of Scotties who painted the night time day and yet cannot comprehend the darkness.    

    • kj on May 31, 2008 at 02:49

    your riffs on writing GH!  thought about pulling out a sentence here and there and then a paragraph and then realized i’d be quoting the entire essay.  🙂

    so very much i agree with above… the written word is the kitchen… good writers are aware of their audience… frugal, and every word placed with great care.  Thanks.

Comments have been disabled.