I admire Jacques Barzun’s thinking, and have read many of his books. I admire his writing even more, and his Simple & Direct: A Rhetoric for Writers is the best book I’ve read on writing (and thinking!) clearly.
So it was a pleasure to stumble across this essay by Helen Hazen on how Jacques Barzun, while literary adviser to Charles Scribner’s Sons, turned her into a writer by asking her to expand her one and only published essay into a book. What’s especially delightful is that Barzun did his job well—the essay is brimming with essential details on how to write, presented carefully and clearly, yet with all the warmth of a memoir, managing to bring Barzun to life as a writer, thinker, teacher, and friend.
Please, if you want to write and are struggling with the technical end of it, take the time to read this essay. It is quite encouraging, and you’ll likely learn a few helpful things.