Hitchens was an amazing writer and obviously thought about writing a lot: his essays on writers show sparkle and panache. So when he writes about Anthony Powell, he provides wonderful snippets of why he thought Powell was an amazing novelist: a word here, a phrase there are shown to the reader as proofs of Powell's inventiveness with language and his mood. Hitchens illuminates through literature as well- in an essay on Newton he sums up the Cavendish laboratory in Cambridge through a reference to Penelope Fitzgerald. He was also obviously a great journalist- I haven't yet got to those pieces but it strikes me even with them that it is mastery of the literary detail- the ability to sum up a subject in a phrase which marks him out.
Hitchens therefore wrote quickly and wrote well- what he had to say was worth reading. I struggle with that demand- I don't write well and don't write quickly. I suspect something of that has with our different skills: I am not a journalist nor have the kind of close reading that Hitchens had or power to quickly summarise. As a historian- and a poor one- I live in constant fear of correction, of the fact that slips through my fingers and leaves me looking silly. I doubt Hitchens's books on Orwell or Paine would really be undermined by the revelation that Paine never wrote the Rights of Man and Orwell never imagined up Winston Smith: his Orwell and his Paine exist independently of the actual historical reality. What he did was amazing and was hard: harder in some ways than being fixated on the facts but it was different. Blogging would have suited Christopher Hitchens- sometimes it feels like it doesn't suit your present author!