Thursday, December 13, 2012

Homage to Jonathan Mayhew

If you like this blog you should thank Jonathan Mayhew. You might say that for several years now this blog has an ongoing attempt impress him. He's not the "implicit reader" of the posts—you are—but what we might call the "implicit editor". As I write, I'm always trying to get my ideas by him.

I'm not saying this just to kiss ass. I'm trying to set a good example. As writers we should always have our readers in mind. But we should also imagine some ideal editor whose judgement is much harsher (and much more precise) than our actual readers. There's stuff you can get away with with your general readership that you can't get away with with Mayhew. (I still cringe when I think of my attempts to say something intelligent about the passive voice.)

I don't have Jonathan in mind when I'm writing a scholarly article, I should say. I wouldn't expect to impress him with my attempts to speak in the voice of organization studies, which I imagine he probably finds quite strained. Truth be told, I haven't thought seriously enough about whose judgement I respect in the same way in that field. And this goes a long way towards explaining my marginal status there. Things are getting a little better, however. (I have recently found a couple of possible role models.)

A writer does well to find someone who personifies the standard they are aspiring to. This blog is written for people who want to raise their standards. And the standard to which it is written is, roughly speaking, my image of Jonathan Mayhew as a scholar.


Jonathan said...

Thanks, Thomas. That's a lot to live up to.

Thomas said...

I'm sure you'll find a way. Thanks for setting a good example.

matt said...

Both of you have challenged me as a writer and, I believe, aided in raising my own standard of work!