Maybe not the best ever, but perhaps the most surprising

Issue of Cites & Insights, that is: Namely, August 2007, Volume 7, Number 9.


I’ve been treating old issues of Cites & Insights as though they were magazines I subscribe to–dropping one into the middle of the basket’o’new magazines, roughly once a month, and reading it when it comes to the front. (This is from the stack of “last year’s issues” that I get when I’ve replaced a year’s worth of individual issues with the full-year paperback.)

That gives me the “writer’s reading” sense I get with my columns in print magazines but hadn’t had with C&I: That is, reading the published version long enough after it’s written to distance yourself from it. That can be a pleasure…although, with C&I, there’s almost always some chagrin, as I catch typos that escaped the several passes during final copyediting and copyfitting.

Sometimes, I get to the end of an issue and say “Well, they can’t all be winners.” Usually, I find a mix of material I’m proud of and material that’s OK. Once in a while, I’m proud of the whole thing.

Right now, I’m about 17 months behind on this, which isn’t a bad interval. Which is to say, two days ago, the August 2007 issue emerged, and I read it over the past two days.


This is a really good issue. It’s distinctly unusual: No regular sections, five Perspectives (one of them Off-topic). The Perspectives really are personal, somewhat philosophical essays (each title begins “On,” usually a tipoff).

And they’re good. With or without “IMHO” or “IMNSHO” attached.

If you haven’t read the issue, you really should. (It’s one of the more widely downloaded, so there’s a good chance you already have. What the heck: You could read it again. The price is right.)

I even think it’s as timely now as it was in late July 2007.

The Surprise

What really surprises me, though, is how good the issue is under the circumstances.

Which is to say: I wrote those essays in July 2007, after coming back from ALA.

It’s fair to say that my morale was not exactly at a peak.

I knew I was out of a job as of the end of September.

After ALA and events leading up to it, the consequences of my introversion, failure to specialize sufficiently, lack of enough schmoozing and other personal shortcomings were clear: My “network” turned out to “notwork.” Lots of good wishes, zero possibilities for workable new full-time employment, or even substantial enough part-time possibilities to constitute a living.

(Peggy Sullivan forwarding the online ad that led to my current part-time gig came later that year.)

So how did I wind up writing four essays as thoughtful, sometimes eloquent, and non-self-pitying as those in this issue?

Whatever it was…

I don’t want to repeat the circumstances. I’d love to repeat the eloquence.

Meantime, I’ll do the best I can–at work, with C&I (I semi-apologize for the amount of navel-gazing from “real issue 102” to the January 2009 issue, and think this year will be better in several ways), with this blog, with my columns…

You can call that a New Year’s Resolution if you’re inclined, but I don’t do those. (I would never have projected that I’d actually keep up the “1.5 miles or more as part of a long lunch plus 1.5-2 miles uphill on a treadmill, at least five days a week” regimen, but it’s become a habit now, and I have so many more old movies to watch…)

One Response to “Maybe not the best ever, but perhaps the most surprising”

  1. laura says:

    That was a great issue, and, I believe, the precursor to many of us saying, “so I reviewed the literature — by which I mean the blogs.” (I think the line first showed up on Uncontrolled Vocabulary, but I could be wrong about that. Anyway, this C&I provides the intellectual justification for that practice elegantly and eloquently.) As for the surprise, well, I don’t think there’s a lot of correlation between how well a writer’s life is going and how well he’s writing. I say this both as someone who used to write and as someone who has read a lot of biographies of writers and has observed more than a few of them at close range.