A Glimpse at A Different Writer
I’m constantly amazed at how the craft of writing can play into many aspects of our lives. There are a wide variety of writers and each is crafting a unique type of prose for an individual audience.
How often do you hear the details of speechwriting? In my own reading, it is rare. This week’s New Yorker magazine includes a detailed profile of Michael Gerson, President George W. Bush’s speechwriter. The article provides a glimpse into this world. Some of you may wonder about the career path of a speechwriter. Some of Gerson’s path shows up deep inside this article: “Gerson attended Georgetown University for a year, but transferred, in 1983, to Wheaton College, an evangelical school near Chicago. In 1985, he wrote a column for the Wheaton College newspaper in praise of Mother Teresa for her commitment to “the poor and the helpless unborn” and, notably, to AIDS patients. The column was written long before AIDS became an issue of general Christian concern, and it was noticed far from campus. Charles Colson read it and invited Gerson to work for him in Washington at the prison ministry he started after his release from jail, where he served a sentence for his role in the Watergate scandal. After that, Gerson went to work as a writer and adviser to Dan Coats, the U.S. senator from Indiana, who was looking at ways to interest conservatives in issues of poverty. During the 1996 Presidential campaign, Gerson wrote speeches for Forbes and Dole, and then went to work for U.S. News.”
Note the emphasis on prayer and faith in these speeches and the core value for Gerson and how his words show this particular value: “Gerson’s life is built around prayer and faith, and so, too, are his speeches. Bush has been criticized for his regular invocations of God, but in that respect he is part of a long tradition. Bill Clinton often invoked the Deity, even referring, on occasion, to Jesus. (Bush frequently mentions “the Almighty,” and “the Creator,” but a close reading of his speeches shows them to be scrupulous in their nonsectarianism.) “The President can’t imagine that someone who is President of the United States could not have faith, because he derives so much from it,” Bush’s chief of staff, Andrew Card, said. ”
I found this article fascinating—and hope you will as well. It reveals again the diversity of writing. Some of us will write speeches. Others will write children’s books and others will specialize in magazine articles. Another group will write nonfiction books while others will write fiction. Each one involves crafting words for a particular audience. From my perspective, it’s key to discover which type of writing is your specialty then do it over and over.