Dorsey Kindler with William Langewiesche: Back in Davis, Langewiesche was about to finish his second Heineken when he mentioned one of his pet peeves – the mini-industry that had crept up around telling people how to write. It was mostly geared toward novelists, but it didn’t matter. The books could all be boiled down to one sentence: write well.
“There is no special club,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who your friends are. It doesn’t matter where you went to school. It only matters what you’re capable of providing now. Write well. Period. But of course if they said that there wouldn’t be that whole industry.”
Magazines, in Langewiesche’s opinion, are great beasts that have to be fed, constantly. If they’re not fed they die, and so they’re desperate for material. But they’re usually fed poorly. And people who say that the golden age is in the past are simply making excuses for their inability to write or publish high-quality journalism.
“You have this precious, incredibly privileged thing,” he said, “which is the reader’s attention for a little while. And you can make the slightest misstep and the reader will put you down. People will say that the reader lives in a busy world. But that’s not the reason why. The reason is that the writer blows it, and loses the reader’s trust.”