Friday, August 14, 2015

My First Writing Mentor: Clint Swift

The Army made me a  writer.  In several blog posts, especially this one, I have written about how the combination of inspiration and free time of soldiers in the field gave the chance to learn how to write.
A movie of my life would have me start writing, a twinkle would show in my eye as I looked to the future, and within a minute I would be transformed from Grunt to Gogol!

As you can tell from my current writing, I am still a grunt who wishes he was Nikolai Gogol, but when the Army gave me my first journalism job in 1978, the guy who helped me the most was a civilian reporter for the Stars and Stripes newspaper, named Clint Swift.  I met Clint when I visited the Stars and Stripes office in Darmstadt, (West) Germany.  I told him what I was doing and he took an interest in me and my unit.

He also gave me a copy of The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E.B. White.  I read and reread the book several times over the next year.  Clint told me how news stories worked, explained the difference between news and feature stories, and helped me to learn the craft of journalism.  I am currently re-reading The Elements of Style.  I could not even guess how many times I have re-read it.
I looked on line to see if I could find Clint.  No luck so far.  I hope he is proud that I made writing my career.  I am sure he would be amused I am back in the Army.

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