Blogger of the Week:
Mark Garvey, Text Arts...
As an English Major, I have a special place in my heart for William Strunk and E.B. White's The Elements of Style. (I have a copy--the one illustrated by Maira Kalman--on my nightstand and often peruse it pre-slumber.) Author Mark Garvey is also a fan of the well-regarded classic guide to usage and offers the ultimate tribute to Elements in his upcoming title Stylized: A Slightly Obsessive History of Strunk and White's The Elements of Style (pubbing in October).
You began Text Arts in February. What motivated you to start blogging? What did you hope to accomplish?
I've had a soft spot in my heart for The Elements of Style since high school. It has always seemed to me that Elements draws together, in concentrated form, the most fundamental and helpful attitudes about writing, and it is one of the books that made me want to be a writer (and editor) in the first place. A few years ago, I noticed that 2009 would mark the book's 50th anniversary, and the time seemed right for a book that considered the history and influence of Strunk and White's little book. I was lucky enough to work with the cooperation and generous help of both the Strunk and White families, and I had the pleasure of interviewing many of my favorite writers for the project.
Stylized includes more biographical detail about William Strunk than has ever been published before, including some wonderful photographs. I was also able to include some of the correspondence between E. B. White and his editors at Macmillan (the original publishers of The Elements of Style), as well as a number of notes from White to readers of Elements. E. B. White may have been the best letter writer of the twentieth century, and I'm thrilled to be able to reproduce some of his letters and notes in my book. In all, I'm excited and honored to able to pay homage in this way to a book that's been such a big influence in my life.
I'm a newbie in the blogging world myself, so consider the source. But I have learned a few things so far:
- Set up a schedule that you can live with. Don't promise your readers new daily posts if you don't have the time, energy, and ideas to deliver on that promise.
- Find an easy way to keep track of ideas for blog posts--they'll hit you when you least expect it. For this purpose, and for my other writing projects, I carry a small digital voice recorder; it's about the size of a disposable lighter. Have idea > click button > record idea. It's even easier than carrying a notebook and pen.
- Build up a "bank" of ideas--at least titles--so you've got some choices when it comes time to write and post.
- Keep the posts professional, sharp, and well-edited. Before you make them public, ask a trusted friend to look them over for clarity and correctness. (
- Enjoy yourself. If you're having fun, chances are your readers will, too.
Visitors to Text Arts this week will find a somewhat atypical post--longer than usual, and more polemical. I'm usually not quite so worked up. I wrote it in response to some articles and blogs I've read in recent weeks that were using the occasion of the 50th anniversary of The Elements of Style to take potshots at the little book. That kind of foolishness doesn't sit well with me, so I used my platform to do a little venting. It's all in good fun, though. Mostly. And I think blogs can benefit from a little dustup now and again.