Text 10 May 1 note "About the End I Know"

Had a bad dream, it

was about us.  You

were gone, and 2 dogs

fought in the yard, my

fault for leaving the gate


The owners didn’t take it

too hard, I searched for

you— a head appearing in

lunch counter windows, calling me

faggot.  There were a hundred

like you, but

more like you.  You

seemed to be saying I’m easy

to replace.

The worst about the end I know

now— you wanted to hurt me.

Text 22 Feb F. Christenson

"The main clause … exhausts the mere fact of the idea; logically, there is nothing more to say. The additions stay with the same idea, probing its bearings and implications, exemplifying it or seeking an analogy or metaphor for it, or reducing it to details … Thus the mere form of the sentence generates ideas. It serves the needs of both the writer and the reader, the writer by compelling him to examine his thought, the reader by letting him into the writer’s thought."

Christensen describes the cumulative sentence structure: “With the main clause stated, the forward movement of the sentence stops, the reader shifts down to a lower level of generality or abstraction or to singular terms, and goes back over the same ground at this lower level.”


Link 22 Feb from "A Note on the Writer's Craft" (1946)»

Let me suggest here one principle of the writer’s craft, which though known to practitioners I have never seen discussed in print. The principle is this: When you write, you make a point, not by subtracting as though you sharpened a pencil, but by adding. When you put one word after another, your statement should be more precise the more you add. If the result is otherwise, you have added the wrong thing, or you have added more than was needed.


…The grammarian leaves with the unwary the impression that the substantive, since it can stand alone, is more important than the adjective, that the verb is more important than the adverb, that the main clause is more important than the subordinate.

…What you wish to say is not found in the noun but in what you add to qualify the noun. The noun is only a grappling iron to hitch your mind to the reader’s. The noun by itself adds nothing to the reader’s information; it is the name of something he knows already, and if he does not know it, you cannot do business with him. The noun, the verb, and the main clause serve merely as a base on which the meaning will rise.

The modifier is the essential part of any sentence.

…In practice, therefore, the sentence proceeds from something the reader may be expected to know already toward whatever new thing we wish to tell him. We proceed by addition.


Our attention is sometimes called to the advantage of omitting all modifiers and confining ourselves to nouns, pronouns, and verbs. The best tombstone and monumental descriptions follow this style, but here, it should be noted, the intention is to commemorate, to remind, rather than to say anything new.

Text 22 Feb Frances Christenson on writing prose

"The end is to enhance life–to give the self (the soul) body by wedding it to the world, to give the world life by wedding it to the self. Or, more simply, to teach to see, for that, as Conrad maintained, is everything."

"The rhythm of good modern prose comes about equally from the multiple-tracking of coordinate constructions and the downshifting and backtracking of free modifiers."


Text 21 Feb Movement

"Prose proceeds forward in time by steps less closely measured, but not less propelling, than the steps of verse. While every few feet, verse reverses, repeats, and reassesses the pattern of its progression, prose picks up momentum toward its forward goal in strides variably adapted to its burden and purposes. Both use steps; neither merely flows; each may be perceived and followed by its own stages of articulation."

-Josephine Miles in STYLE and PROPORTION: The LANGUAGE of PROSE and POETRY (1967)

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