June 15, 2015

On Quality

"My father was a man who loved his business [his family-owned, three-generations old shellac company].  When he talked about it I never felt that he regarded it as a venture for making money; it was an art, to be practiced with imagination and only the best materials.  He had a passion for quality and had no patience with the second-rate; he never went into a store looking for a bargain.  He charged more for his product because he made it with the best ingredients, and his company prospered...

Only later did I realize that I took along on my journey another gift from my father: a bone-deep belief that quality is its own reward.  I, too, have never gone into a store looking for a bargain.  Although my mother was the literary one in our family--magpie collector of books, lover of the English language, writer of dazzling letters--it was from the world of business that I absorbed my craftsman's ethic, and over the years, when I found myself endlessly rewriting what I had endlessly rewritten, determined to write better than everybody who was competing for the same space, the inner voice I was hearing was the voice of my father talking about shellac."

- William Zinsser, On Writing Well

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