The Zinsser reading this week focused on the interview and pointed out that finding the human element in a story was most important. If you let people who have a passion for or genuine comments on the issue you are writing about tell the story, it will be sincere and all the more interesting. The article was useful because it reminds you that everyone has something to say and for the most part is willing to share when asked. I think that even though it may be intimidating to do an interview, once you do it, you’ll find that it isn’t as hard as you thought because people like to be heard and if they are approached for their expertise or opinion on something, they will likely share.
The Graham reading focused on the use of anecdotes to illustrate a point in your writing. It gives the reader a short story to recall that exemplifies the thesis. The use of the anecdote ties in with what Zinsser was discussing because it adds a human element to “articles even when writing primarily about things or concepts” (Graham 121).
As she pulls the large glass Pyrex measuring cup out of the microwave, the liquid inside sloshes around, almost spilling over the edge. Setting it on the countertop, she takes a sip of Sambuca from her glass. Things are starting to get a little sloppy at this point and the large knife that she uses to cut the chunks of solid glycerin is hovering near the edge of the counter. “What color and scent do I want to go with this time?” she muses as she scans the several glass bottles lined up in front of her. “Almond fragrance with yellow color!” she exclaims as though this is a new combination. On occasion you will find Pat making soap on Friday evenings. It is her calming ritual after a particularly long work week. “My grandchildren won’t use any other soap you know,” she relays with a beaming smile. She pours in a hint of yellow coloring and some of the almond scent. As she stirs, the liquid takes on an iridescent appearance and the delicious scent wafts up and spreads throughout the kitchen. She slowly pours the liquid into the mold and as she sprays the surface with a squirt bottle, the scent of almond disappears and is replaced with the biting odor of rubbing alcohol. “It takes out the bubbles,” she comments and moves the mold to the side. Bringing one over that has already solidified, she bangs it on the counter to get it to release. When this happens, the knife falls on the floor just inches away from her foot. Exhaling from the struggle of bending over to pick it up, she rinses it off and gets out the silicone ruler she uses to measure the bars of soap, though none of them ever really end up the same size. The first cut reveals the swirls and scent of the blue and white “ocean breeze” scented bars she prepared in a mold earlier in the evening. “I love that smell,” she says as she sticks out her arm for me to take a whiff. I amuse her with the “oohs” and “aahs” I know she expects and she seems satisfied. Cutting the rest of the bars from the mold, she piles them in front of the shrink-wrap machine. “I think I’ll do that tomorrow,” she says as she picks up her glass and takes another sip. Placing the measuring cup, knife and cutting board in the sink, she offers me a bar to take with me as proof of her accomplishment. She hands me a bar that is already wrapped and labeled, red with a “Summer Rose” sticker on it. Now that she is relaxed, she leaves the last mold to harden and sees me to the door before she goes to rest her worn-out feet.