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~ Writing a Biography ~
A Blog About Writing Biography and Imagining a Life

The Perils of Writing about a Living Subject. Especially a Big Subject.

Steve Jobs and Walter Isaacson (Credit: Getty Images)
        For two weeks I've been trying desperately to find time to pull together two articles I've sworn to post: the follow-up post I promised on organizing research (no, haven't forgotten) and a version of a lecture I gave on 10/17/2011 about using detective work to reconstruct crucial events and scenes.

        Till then, if you need an excuse to avoid writing for an hour or so, you can listen to the original here, including a Q&A session that raised some of those tough questions I think are the best way to get valuable feedback and hone one's writing skills. (Hot tip: Never ask your mother to read the first draft. Whatever she says, it's not going to be what you need to hear.)

        If you need a different or shorter excuse, here's an excellent piece by New York Times business and media columnist Joe Nocera, which offers some insight into the dangers that lie in wait for even the most able biographer when he tackles a living subject. Especially a subject with as strong a will and as enigmatic a personality as Steve Jobs.

        On further consideration: Would Isaacson's book have had more "insight" (compared, say, with the Franklin biography Nocera admires) if he had given more rein to his own feelings about Jobs' impending demise? Would it have been a better biography, or a lesser one? What do those of you who've read it think?
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