Wherewithal friend (and client) Gregory Alan Thornbury was interviewed for NPR’s All Things Considered this weekend about his fantastic biography Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?: Larry Norman and the Perils of Christian Rock. Listen here. I’m so thrilled to have helped make this book happen!
Tina Brown was in the news recently on the release of her new book The Vanity Fair Diaries: 1983-1992. I’ve met Tina Brown on a couple of occasions and found her perfectly lovely. That’s a Tina-esque descriptor — “perfectly lovely.” A friend of mine was on staff at The Daily Beast in its earliest days,…
“Look, writing is hard. It’s like some vile, incurable disease: There are bad days, and there are worse days. And writing well is a two-stage process: (1) write not so well; (2) fix it.” —Jim Holt
Awhile ago I came across writing advice from Philip Pullman that amounted to: “The beginning of a story doesn’t have to be told first.” No duh, I thought. Of course the first pieces of information an audience receives from a storyteller will not necessarily correspond to what happened first chronologically. But Pullman’s insight is more…
Don’t believe everything you read on Grammarly. I recently came across their advice on commas after introductory words. Granted, it’s not a pressing world problem, and I’m no grammar Nazi, but in this case, they were alleging something is wrong that isn’t, and that gets me all het up. Their example of incorrect usage—“Meanwhile the cat stretched luxuriously in the sunshine—is in fact perfectly fine; you don’t need a comma after “Meanwhile.” A comma after an introductory word or short phrase is optional.
Overall the post is a great example of how googling a grammar question can get you a bad answer, and usually one that will lecture you on independent clauses and blah-blah-blah when really the only point of punctuation is to serve clarity and consistency, and you don’t need to memorize arcane terms for various word groups to know how to punctuate them correctly. Grammar Underground has a much better take here. Even further down the Google rankings, the Editor’s Blog put it best: “Transition words such as therefore and indeed are often followed by commas, but they don’t have to be. The trend is toward a more light-handed use of commas. If meaning is clear and readers couldn’t possibly misread, consider dropping commas from single-word transitions (and even a few multiword transitions).” See? Much easier. Enjoy!
This essay in The Atlantic about a torturous revision process is a good reminder of something I’ve long suspected but haven’t committed to in print, and that’s this: The kind of editing that transforms a piece of writing, that can take a text that isn’t working and make it read beautifully, even launch it onto…
Over at Kottke.org, Tim Carmody dissects why everyone who says video will overtake all media platforms are wrong: Text is surprisingly resilient. It’s cheap, it’s flexible, it’s discreet. Human brains process it absurdly well considering there’s nothing really built-in for it. Plenty of people can deal with text better than they can spoken language, whether as a…
My colleague Jed Bickman (editor at The New Press and of The Boy Who Could Change the World) and I will be bringing our thoughts on good book ideas, and how best to present them, to Civic Hall on Wednesday, May 18, 12:30pm to 2pm. To register, look here.
A big thanks in the meantime to Micaf Sifry for helping to arrange it.