Jack Limpert's typewriter reminiscences about the good old days, when it was the focal point of the office instead of forgotten in the basement: "I remember hearing the salespeople say that if we spent $100,000 on their computers, we’d be able to save that much in salaries because the computers were so efficient. Ha! The staff is bigger than ever, and we now have two guys called IT managers and everyone treats them like the most important people in the office."
Bryn Nelson riffs on the new economics of journalism, where the pay is less than lawnmowing wages and getting your point across to your readers counts for less than page views, shares, and upvotes: "Think of it as a marginally kinder and gentler 'Hunger Games' for journalists. You see, my pay is contingent on each post being in the top 10% of all articles every month. Plus, if I’m one of the lucky six writers with the most points, I earn the unheard-of bonus of $150!"
Josh Jones wonders who wrote the famous filler type and discovers the answer starts with Cicero, with help from a long-forgotten typesetter. Quoting Richard McClintock of Hampden-Sydney College: "It has been used as filler text since the sixteenth century when — as McClintock theorized — 'some typesetter had to make a type specimen book, to demo different fonts' and decided that 'the text should be insensible, so as not to distract from the page’s graphical features.'"
Kate Hamill lifts the veil and explains what freelancers are really saying in their text messages: "Yes, I’d love to come meet you at the gym, Workout Buddy! Morning is great, except I will inevitably sleep through my alarm after staying up until 3 a.m. When you wake me up, I will pretend that I was up late dancing the night away at some wild party – instead of sitting at home doing obsessive, nitpicky edits to my website after 4 cups of ill-advised evening coffee."
Joanna Penn takes a tongue-in-cheek look at the roller-coaster of her emotions as a writer. On the one hand: "I love connecting with my readers and fans. I love reading reviews and getting emails from people who enjoy my books." Then, careening to the opposite extreme: "I’m afraid of criticism. I hate the one star reviews. They make me want to give up every day. Sometimes I wonder if it would be best if no one even read my work, because then no one would attack me."
Even if you've never thought about ordering some lightweight fake boulders for your front lawn, the newly bankrupt SkyMall might have had something you could use as a working journalist, Kristen Hare writes: "In honor of SkyMall, here are five things journalists actually could have used from the magazine." For example. there's the iDream3 Eye & Head Massager: "Co-workers might think you’re testing out Oculus Rift or HoloLens. But you’ll be getting an eyeball massage."
Your middle-school teacher lied to you. All those grammar rules that were drummed into your brain when you were an impressionable teen? A lot of them don't hold water, Lauren Davis writes: "Some things that people have been taught are rules of English grammar are really not rules at all — and some of them are flat-out wrong. There's actually a word for this phenomenon: hypercorrection. It's what happens when people learn that something that isn't a rule is a rule."
Rachel Grate discusses a line of research suggesting that the act of writing — even bad writing — can improve the writer's physical and mental health: "You don't have to be a serious novelist or constantly reflecting on your life's most traumatic moments to get these great benefits. Even blogging or journaling is enough to see results. One study found that blogging might trigger dopamine release, similar to the effect from running or listening to music."
Lincoln Michel riffs on a tweet by author Elizabeth McCracken and asks what it would be like if people talked to other professionals the way they talk to writers: "Strangers seem very willing to offer career advice … or to oddly ask you to guess what work they've read in their life and if any of yours is among it." So here's an icebreaker for your next social event: "Gastroenterologist? My aunt tried to be a gastroenterologist. Hard to make a living doing that!"
Bill Ferris explains how networking really works in a wise-guy's guide to making the most of a writers' meeting. For example, here's Ferris on pitching: "Say you meet a well-known editor, who you know would love your new book on artisanal paper airplanes. Give her a copy of your manuscript. Does she want it? Of course not! Who would? But here on the conference floor or the bar or the restroom, the social contract prevents her from saying no without looking like a jerk."