Belated thanks

I have said that, for all my other strengths, I have the social grace of a drunken, diarrhetic baboon. I am just atrocious at certain fundamantal social skills.

For example, I should have told two people thanks a while ago, when I could have done so privately. I didn’t, so now I feel obligated to do so publicly.

The first is Will Franklin. I take a personal sense of pride in Will as a blogger, as I first discovered him through his linking to some of my pieces and returned the favor. I also recommended him as a guest-blogger when Kevin needed some folks to chip in while he took a vacation. I probably overestimate the value of those things in Will’s success, but I like to indulge myself.

Will is a first-rate blogger. I deeply envy his historical knowledge and education, his ability to use graphics to illustrate his points, and his insights. Will also has a clear, intelligent, and (dare I say it) “classy” writing style that he uses to make his points in a convincing (yet not forceful) manner. If one were to assemble a list of “blogs that everyone should be reading,” Will’s site ought to be near the top.

Why am I saying such nice things about Will? For a couple of reasons. First, I’m stuck for topics this morning. Second, they’re all true. Third, I’m simply returning the favor — and returning favors is the Classy thing to do.

Last week, Will Franklin was interviewed by the National Journal’s Blogometer. And in the course of the questioning, he managed to say some very nice things about one of the authors of this site. Some of them might even be true.

Congratulations, Will, and thanks.

The second person who deserves my thanks is Charlie Quidnunc, the guy who does the weekly Podcast for Wizbang!

Now, I don’t “get” podcasting. Call me a Luddite, but it just doesn’t “work” for me. I am very much a person of the written word. I far more enjoy reading people’s ideas than listening to them. I understand podcasting and vidblogging are getting more and more popular, and I have no problems with that — it’s just a movement that thus far I have no interest in.

That being said, I have actually downloaded and listened to a couple of Charlie’s podcasts, and thought they were well done. But one in particular I had to listen to and save.

Back on March 22, Charlie devoted a good chunk of the podcast to a piece I wrote. Being as insecure and in need of affirmation and praise as I am, I listened as he read my words, and read along to the original piece. And I grew irritated as he made subtle changes to the words I had written, the words I had so carefully chosen and crafted. And he also interrupted my flow of thoughts with sound clips.

After, though, I realized I was disappointed because Charlie had not read my work. He had not reported accurately what I had said.

He had ADAPTED it.

I write for the printed page (or, if you prefer, screen). I intend my words to be read silently, to appeal to the eyes and brain. When choosing my words and phrases, the ease of their spoken use never enters into the equation. I will build elaborate constructs of words and phrases that would give a Shakepearean actor pause if spoken aloud.

Charlie had dismantled some of those constructs that I had labored over and replaced them with easier, simpler terms that not only are easier to speak, but easier to hear. He had spotted places where what I had done simply wouldn’t work for his medium, and corrected them. Most importantly, he had done so in such a way that only the most anal-retentive jerk (such as, say, the original author equipped with the original text) could detect the changes.

And those interruptions of outside material? In the body of the piece, I had quoted several sources. In some cases, I didn’t have access to the original words, so I paraphrased. In others, I found transcripts and quoted them.

Charlie put forth considerable effort and tracked down each and every one of those statements, found audio of the people saying them, and put them in the podcast. He took my accusing Liane Hansen of NPR (of whom I am quite fond, despite this) of rewriting history and put up her account of President Bush’s statements right alongside Bush’s actual words. It’s one thing to see on the page (or screen) the two reports, side by side, and see the obvious fabrications. But if seeing is believing, so is hearing.

Charlie, you did great violence to my written work. You changed it beyond anything I would have done. But that is the actions of an editor. You took my work and adapted it for a medium I had not intended it for. Your violations of the style of my work did improved the hell out of the substance of it, making it far better than I could ever have done.

As an author, I am resentful. My ego was bruised by the first word you changed. But that’s the whining of a child not understanding why the doctor has to give me an injection.

But as someone who is far more concerned about the message than the messenger, you have my gratitude and my praise. I am honored that you created such a great report out of my piece, and you’re more than welcome to molest anything else I write.

And to those who enjoy podcasts — if you’re not listening to Charlie, you should. If you don’t I just might do one of my own. Be warned, though — I not only have the perfect face for radio, but the perfect voice for print. If you don’t believe me, I just might scream or, worse, sing — and NOBODY wants that.

A study in contrasts
Carnival of the Trackbacks LXIII

12 Comments

  1. Muslim Unity May 13, 2006
  2. SmartGuy May 13, 2006
  3. Mac Lorry May 13, 2006
  4. Charlie Quidnunc May 13, 2006
  5. epador May 13, 2006
  6. Paul May 13, 2006
  7. Jay Tea May 13, 2006
  8. Paul May 13, 2006
  9. Les Nessman May 13, 2006
  10. Will Franklin May 13, 2006
  11. Muslim Unity May 15, 2006
  12. Jay Tea May 15, 2006