Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Around the Word

France's (other) oldest profession: Our ghostwriter brethren on the other side of the Atlantic made headlines last weekend when the Wall Street Journal published a feature on the écrivain public, the public writer. Public writers -- who have been around in France since the 1200s -- help mostly working class people with resumes, job applications and bureaucratic paperwork, though they are also known to write speeches, eulogies, family histories and the occasional love letter. Public writing, both freelance and government-sponsored, "is enjoying a resurgence lately," according to the Journal. We're happy to see global ghosts finding work; we just wish they were known by the cool-sounding French translation of "ghostwriter" -- écrivain fantôme.

Isn't it ironic? Irony is one of those tricky rhetorical devices that (ironically?) people often misuse. From eye-rolling teenagers to Alanis Morissette, irony has been appropriated, mangled and redefined by popular culture. If you need a refresher on the correct way to use irony, Ragan recently offered a helpful primer on the subject. Check out their do's and don'ts and let us know if you've seen jarring examples in need of ironing out.

Creative destruction: We all know the Great Recession has hit writers and other creative freelancers especially hard, but how do we measure the collective toll its taken on our community and the culture we help create? Salon has set out to answer this question with a series on erosion of America's "creative class.  In the first of the series, out this week, writer Scott Timber focuses in on the economic impact the Great Recession has had on the arts -- from shuttering independent record stores to folding newspapers. This doesn't bode well for what had been a vibrant sector of the U.S. economy.  "What the United States produces now is culture and ideas," Timber argues. "Trouble is, making a living doing this has never been harder." As a member of the creative class, what has your Great Recession experience been? 

Perseus the self-publisher: Though self-publishing has been mostly an avenue for writers trying to avoid the big names in the publishing world, industry stalwart Perseus Books Group made a splash this week by throwing its traditional hat into the DIY ring. Its new service will be available only to authors represented by an agency that has signed an agreement with Perseus. And according to the New York Times, it will also offer "a favorable revenue split that is unusual in the industry: 70 percent to the author and 30 percent to the distributor." What do you think about a mega-publisher like Perseus trying to go solo?

Book borrowing for dummies: Lending a cherished book to a friend, only to have it returned dog-eared and stained, can be a traumatic experience for a bibliophile. To avoid book borrowing missteps, check out this post from Modern Manners Guy on the etiquette of lending out your personal library. Though if you have to remind your friends that "books are not plates," you might want to get new friends.

No comments: