Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Ralph Ingersoll, Editor Extraordinaire

I'm reading a biography about a guy named Ralph Ingersoll (1900-1985) who was a brilliant editor, first at The New Yorker when the magazine was just starting out (he was about 25 years old at the time--good grief) and then editor at Fortune, also at that magazine's beginnings. I'm writing a novel about 1930s New York, and I've found that the city was full of people like Ingersoll, both men and women, fascinating people who no one knows anything about these days.

Ingersoll was a guy who would have understood bloggers, and he also would have had some good advice for them. Although this piece of advice was aimed at magazine editors, it could just as easily apply to the blogsosphere. This was quoted in the Ingersoll biography by Roy Hoopes (1985):

An editor may pass for print only what pleases him. It is his own taste he must discover. If he then finds that other people share his taste and like or enjoy or approve of what his taste has chosen, then he is a successful editor. If they don't then he had better choose another trade, for no man can base his choice of what to print on what he imagines or reasons other people might like. If only a few readers respond, then the aspirant to editorship will make his choices for an esoteric quarterly, subsidized by someone who likes him or who has nothing better to do with his money. If enough people like what he likes, he will become a honed professional whom society will support.

So following the Ingersoll editorial plan, at Touched With Fire I post what pleases me. I figure that if something interests me, then it's bound to interest a few other people as well.

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