Prose Pruning by S. M. Hutchens

Quodlibet

Prose Pruning

One of the literary lessons I've learned from pruning fruit trees every spring is that a well-pruned tree, like a well-pruned essay, doesn't look pruned, just nicely shaped. None of what has come off is missed after a second glance, nor does any remembrance remain of what the tree looked like beforehand. Pruning does not simply encourage dendritic aesthetics and stimulate fruit production, but allows light and air to penetrate to the center of the tree, discouraging disease and pests. "He who pruneth not, hateth his tree"—which proverb is related to "Everybody needeth an editor."

S. M. Hutchens is a Touchstone senior editor.

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