I love writing, excellent craftful writing. Often my favorite articles in New Yorker are on the most banal subjects: a recent article on concrete, a much older one on steel processing. It’s almost like watching the strong man at the fair– you don’t really care what he’s lifting, it’s the show of the raw strength. A writer who makes five pages of concrete or ten pages of steel riveting is impressive as a chopin impromptu.
Everyone knows that the web has allowed every moron that can type access to publishing, but what too few people say when they speak of blogging and self-publishing on the web is how common it’s made good writing. Reading a recent entry by Anil Dash on Fear of Flying I was struck by the muscular grace his writing had achieved. While not at a New Yorker level (editors do count) it still reflected a comfortable strength in constructing words on almost any topic to entertain. A quick flip the blogs I read shows a dozen other proto-articles also thoughtful and skillfully executed.
Revist your daily reads now and rather than just luxuriating in the tales of mark-up and parking, consider this is just some fellow in his/her basement, or on the couch, with a background in who knows what– history, or engineering and not a journalism major… what a marvelous little miracle.
The metaphor of muscles was not chosen randomly, btw— the one way to become a better writer is to write daily. A journal will transform anyone’s prose, and a public one does so much faster. Working out makes you strong; working out in public makes you push yourself. Writing makes you strong, writing in public makes you try harder.
I suppose that makes an editor a personal trainer.