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The other day at lunch, a colleague asked an interesting question: "If you could be any writer, who would you want to be?" Everyone else at the table quickly rattled off a list of names of magazine columnists, essayists, and writers they admired—but I was honestly kind of stumped. Disconcerted, I've been turning the question around in my head ever since.

I mean, I'm a magazine editor. I read stacks and stacks of magazines growing up, was greatly inspired by a handful of book authors in my teens, and got into a bunch of comics writers and artists in college—but I'd be hard-pressed to list off many dead-tree magazine or newspaper writers I particularly care about. I know along the way I've liked certain writers' styles, and saved copies of certain columns for my files, and I'm sure I've picked up tricks here and there from a number of them—but for the life of me I can't remember most of their names!

But yesterday, it finally occurred to me: If you flipped the question to ask me about my favorite Internet writers and essayists, I could rattle off a full complement. Paul Graham. Jessamyn West. Matt Haughey. Alex Zola. Orson Scott Card. Andrew Baio. Bill Keaggy. King Kaufman. Nate Silver. The writers of n+1 mag. The McSweeney's crowd, for starting down that path in the first place. And a bunch of people whose real names I don't know, like dirtynumbangelboy, jonmc, grumblebee, and ikkyu2.

I'm suppose I'm not bereft of inspiration after all.

1:16 pm, April 16, 2009 :: art of editing

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