• "Made in the Shade"
    A package on Southern writers: profiles, interviews and an 11-state directory of writers you may never have heard of but are worth your time. Appeared in Creative Loafing chain.
  • "Mass Appeal"
    A day-in-the-life profile of a telegenic parish priest in Miami. Published in Catholic Digest, reprinted in the St. Petersburg Times
  • "The Liberation of Tam Minh Pham"
    How the first West Point graduate from South Vietnam disappears after the fall of Saigon, only to be rescued by his classmates two decades later. A cover story in The Washington Post Magazine


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I debated between responding to your Poynter essay or posting a comment on your blog (which I subscribed to a few days after it launched).

I decided in favor of the blog to keep with the spirit. Your column resonated strongly with me. As a journalist and writer-in-a-bind (more on that below) I also felt a need to lower my standards while also exposing myself to the world.

When your good friend Berkley Hudson first suggested lowering standards -- and then quoted Don Murray a whole bunch of times -- I agreed. But there wasn't much incentive to writing with lower standards if the product would be a forgotten file on my computer (not all of us can resurrect those files the way Joan Didion did).

Last summer when I finished my master's I decided to blog as an excuse to practice my writing. That's still the main purpose of my blog although, as you mentioned, I also like to be in the technological moment and promote writing I do elsewhere.

Blogging is writing and it makes the pain of the process worth it. My drafts and ideas are now open to critique and that motivates me.

I'm glad you are writing more regularly (I did feel the drop in the number of columns you wrote) and I hope the freedom of being yourself as a writer -- at your best and worst -- will keep you blogging.


PS: The writer-in-a bind the dilemma comes from deciding which language I should become a (better) writer in. Almost three years removed from my homeland I feel I have become a mediocre writer in Romanian. The same time, the writing I do in English has barely progressed to this mediocre stage. I feel like I have to choose because I don't feel capable of moving forward on both fronts.


Chip, hi. I don't know if this is a good reason -- but it's one that works for me.
Briefly: As a columnist writing about cricket -- a game close to a billion Indians, plus assorted Englishmen, Aussies, West Indians, Pakistanis, Sri Lankans and others happen to be nuts about -- I faced a twin dilemma.
Often, there would be no real development worthy of a gravitas-laden column, but you had to write one anyway by editorial fiat, on deadline.
At the same time, there would be lots of little developments going on, that merited a stroke of the highlighter pen -- sometimes, bringing a fact, an event, a development to public attention/notice is all it takes, really.
You can't do that in a column, though -- collect about a dozen different, unrelated events and stitch them all together. Not without sacrificing flow.
Enter the blog -- and it's the perfect medium. You can if you like editorialize. Or you can just link to a story about some development, flag it and say go, read. And sometimes, you can go minimalistic -- often, an event merits a pithy, one line comment, not an entire column. Here, you can do just that -- highlight something, and add your two bits to it. 'This sucks' is sometimes more eloquent than a full column -- and on a blog, you can do just that.
Thanks for your writings -- they, together with the rest of Poynter content, have served as an ongoing college for me for years now.

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It's great to hear from you and see what you've been up to. In your blog I feel your enthusiasm for life. thank you.

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