At Vogue one learned fast, or one did not stay, how to play games with words, how to put a couple of unwieldy dependent clauses through the typewriter and roll them out transformed into one simple sentence composed of precisely thirty-nine characters. We were connoisseurs of synonyms. We were collectors of verbs. (I recall “to ravish” as a highly favored verb for a number of issues, and I also recall it, for a number of issues more, as the source of a highly favored noun: “ravishments,” as in tables cluttered with porcelain tulips, Faberge eggs, other ravishments.) We learned as reflex the grammatical tricks we had learned only as marginal corrections in school (“there are two oranges and an apple” read better than “there were an apple and two oranges,” passive verbs slowed down sentences, “it” needed a reference within the scan of the eye), learned to rely on the OED, learned to write and rewrite and rewrite again. “Run it through again, sweetie, it’s not quite there.” “Give me a shock verb two lines in.” “Prune it out, clean it up, make the point.” Less was more, smooth was better, and absolute precision essential to the monthly grand illusion. Going to work for Vogue was, in the late nineteen-fifties, not unlike training with the Rockettes.
I take copious notes on books I’m reading, as well as online materials, and save everything to Evernote, where I tag meticulously – it’s so easy for any extensive library or archive to become useless if the items in it aren’t searchable or retrievable, and I find the tagging system is an incredible memory aid to help counter that.
My site runs on WordPress, but I write straight in HTML – on my desktop, in Coda – and not in the WYSIWYG editor on WordPress. I use Evernote to save notes on various items I’m reading and to photograph the marginalia on book pages, which are then searchable thanks to optical character recognition. I read almost everything online in Pocket.