Some Good Writing Advice

I realize the irony of announcing that I would be continuing blogging only to leave things rather quiet around here. There’s plenty going on–just not everything makes it to the blog.

One thing I’ve been doing is finishing my immersion in John Jay Documents. After an extended deep dive into them, I think I have a pretty good idea of some directions to go.

It turns out that John Jay had some definite ideas about history and history writing. One opinion emerged in a comment he made to the Federalist minister and geographer Jedidiah Morse:

You know my sentiments respecting history,–festina lente. No good history has been, nor can be, produced in haste.

(John Jay to Jedidiah Morse, 14 February 1815)

The Latin is a common phrase meaning “make haste slowly.” It was an opinion that Erasmus expressed often. In a more popularized form, Ben Franklin instructed his readers that “haste makes waste.”

Now, I don’t know about you, but I think I have the lente part of the equation down. I’ll keep working on the festina element.

That said, I think this might also be a good response when people ask me why I’m not making the progress they think I should. I’ll answer them that I’m following John Jay’s advice for writing and proceeding festina lente.

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