No Ideas But in Things: On Writing about Politics

I’ve been largely avoiding writing while I’m on the campaign trail for a variety of reasons (Don’t cross the streams!), but maybe I need to reconsider:

“Most political writing is bad writing. But I wish writers wouldn’t abandon politics to ideologues – for the simple reason that writers write well. When the language of solid things, of humanity and action and emotion, occupy themselves elsewhere, the machinery of the world is left to empty words and dishonesty.”

BREVITY's Nonfiction Blog

zz_amosBy Peter Amos

No ideas but in things. Over the last two months, I’ve made my first real push for publication. Prominent magazines and journals often accept a fraction of one percent of submissions. There are thousands of others that accept between five and ten percent. The point being that, by virtue of submitting my own work, I’ve read gobs of essays from a slew of journals.

Coming at anything as an outsider can be fascinating. Everyone is an insider somewhere. I talk about Star Wars with my best friend from elementary school in a shorthand that culls outsiders quickly. With that in mind, I’ve noticed two things about magazines and journals, one related to the other.

The first is that essays are overwhelmingly narrative and skew wildly toward memoir. All people who strive to be better at things tend to over-learn the lessons of their mistakes. No ideas but…

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