wherewithal press, inc.

Editing Principle 43: Enthusiasm


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


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!

Wherewithal Writing Prompts


Recently a client had a Trello board full of topics he wanted to cover on his blog, and a hard time getting to the actual writing. Also, where to start? Late at night, kids to bed, sitting down to type, glowing screen—what was it he wanted to say about birthday cake* again? It’s one thing…

Text: Resilient, Cheap, Flexible, Discreet


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…

Editing Principle 40: Write Like a Hack (Sometimes)


Lately I’ve worked with a couple of clients struggling through revisions on early drafts. Neither of them had trouble with the topic; they knew their stuff. Both had published books before. Both had a lot riding on the current project. One needed tenure. The other wanted to capture his conflicted feelings about humanitarian aid work after thirty-plus years…


Because Facebook and other social media sites stopped acknowledging the existence of photos smaller than 300×300 pixels. Oh the things we could say about that but won’t (right now). I hope you enjoy the larger pics!