Say it ain't so

Carol Saller has a disturbing post at Lingua Franca on difficult writers.

It's quite a stunner. My experience has been almost exclusively with newspaper reporters, who display none of the obnoxious characteristics Ms. Saller describes. On the contrary, newspaper reporters understand that the standards and purposes of the publication trump their personal preferences. They do not allow their egos to stand in the way of the work. They are collegial and cooperative with the copy desk, grateful, sometimes almost pathetically so, for the copy editor's efforts to correct error and smooth out rough prose.

But I trust Ms. Saller, and if she says there are difficult writers out there somewhere, I know they must exist. 

If you write for a newspaper, you can ignore this section of the post, but if you write elsewhere and suspect that someone may have found you difficult, please keep in mind what Ms. Saller says about the value of being edited:

"The point of submitting a piece of writing to the scrutiny of another is that self-editing is so darned hard. Scholars especially need another eye on their work, because they compose at a high level of abstraction and detail. Few brains can simultaneously monitor conceptual progress and mechanical detail without lapses. ...

"Easy writers—most writers, in my experience—are curious and open to learning about  trends in style and grammar. They object in reasonable tones to editing that doesn’t suit them, and they forgive an editor’s occasional errors or inability to understand specialist content. They keep in touch regarding deadlines; they ask questions; they express appreciation. The best ones enjoy the dialogue, the banter, and the spirited arguments that are part of a true collaboration."

Now on to drink: I used to think that, like H.L. Mencken, I was omnibibulous, but my colleague Erik Maza downed a concoction recently at the Greene Turtle that shows he is a better man than I. The Irish Float combines Guinness, Bacardi rum, and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. I think that chocolate syrup may be involved. You have leave to shudder.

Not only is it ill-conceived, it was ill-prepared, Mr. Maza says, with the ice cream so rock-hard that it was difficult to consume, finally melting disagreeably into the beverage.

One hesitates to be a snob about drink,* but the proliferation of sugary children's dishes souped up with liquor and served to adults does not speak well for the national tastes.


*Actually, one doesn't; one pretends to hesitate, for form's sake.


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