Friday, February 17, 2017

thank you Dr. Littmann

Thank you Dr. Mark Littmann for inviting me to chat with the students taking your environmental science writing class at the University of Tennessee. And there has never been a time more needful than today for science writers. We live in an era in which scientists are announcing new discoveries daily, yet our country's leaders deny the validity of science. AND science is the one thing that is real because it is peer reviewed and testable.

We discussed the writing process, where ideas come from plus the importance of reading good science writing. Whatever you put into your brain, is what your mind thinks about, so be good stewards and feed your brain the best!

Turn off that TV and read a good science book. My personal bellwether moment came with "Pilgrim at Tinker Creek," by Annie Dillard. Sorry John le Carré, spy novels are summer reading. If you want to be a good writer, dedicate yourself to your craft and learn from the best. A good writer can make the "History of Tarpaper" compelling to read. 

We also talked about the creation of my UT Press book Ghost Birds and ivory-billed woodpeckers in general. Are they extinct or not? Ghost Birds is set in the 1930s when the conservation movement was just beginning in this country and the question of the day was: Should we try to save a vanishing species or not?

Luckily, the answer then was "YES!"

Great discussion.  

As always, thank you Rachael Eliot!

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