My first exposure to William Zinsser was in 1990 when I picked up "On Writing Well" in an effort to improve my journalism. What I discovered was a lifelong mentor to accompany me on my writing journey.
Fourteen years later in 2004, I had the great pleasure of meeting him in person and introducing him to an audience of journalists gathered at a conference in New York City. (Pictured above) I've had a passion for his writing and his wisdom on writing for 20 years.
Imagine my delight to learn somewhat belatedly (it was published in 2009) that he has written a book called "Writing Places: The Life Journey of a Writer and Teacher." I love the sound of it, I love the idea of it and I can't wait to hear what he has to say about his own journey. I'll be at the bookstore tomorrow to make my purchase, adding this latest to my well-worn Zinsser collection.
His books are filled with my notations: underlined passages, notes in the margins, post-it notes marking entire pages. They are lovingly dog-eared and never far from reach as a source of information or inspiration.
With the patience of a grandfather and the enthusiasm of a lifelong learner, he has embraced hundreds, probably thousands of writers, answering the phone in his Manhattan office on Lexington Avenue and making a difference in the lives of writers. It's a role he embraces.
“Many younger writers have taken me as a mentor. They just look me up in the Manhattan telephone book. ‘I know how busy you are,’ they say, assuming that I spend every minute writing at my computer. I tell them I have many ways of being busy, and this is one of the ways I like best. I particularly like to be busy with people who want their writing to make a difference. And by now I have a small shelf of their books.”The biggest surprise is to see that this delightfully old-fashioned man, with his trademark white fedora and sensible New Balance running shoes, has embraced modernity in the form of a website.