2011 on the Nose

People sometimes ask me why I run this site, and I tell them it’s for many reasons. It’s fun, and I get to do some writing, something I enjoy—usually. The site certainly doesn’t make any money, but there is a slight publicity aspect to it for me: If I were a writer looking for an editor, I’d respect someone who could write well more than someone who’s just an editor.

So, now that Magnificent Nose is over a year old: How’s the site doing?

I’d like for us to update daily, but we’ll need more writers for that. However, in 2011, Magnificent Nose has grown from a one-person blog to a site that’s written by three writers, plus occasional guests. The Nose is clearly no longer just “Neil’s blog”: It’s a group effort. And I feel great about that.

Maybe I spend three or four hours a week actually working on this site, not counting writing my own posts. (Ideally, that’s one post a week.) But my working week is punctuated by three site events, including my posts on Mondays.

I generally start thinking about that post over the weekend, sometimes mining past ideas for something I can put up. It should relate to the general theme of reading, writing, and language, but if I have something that’s interesting and doesn’t fit, I’ll go with something interesting over something that fits. (The article Broken Windows is a good example.) Sometimes, I’ll put something up out of desperation, and people will love it. But I haven’t had to resort to a filler post of links to interesting stuff in months.

On Monday or Tuesday, Sara‘s article will usually be waiting for me in the queue. Her pieces on writing (and teaching writing) have helped me focus the site. Her writing can also be deeply personal, something no other regular contributor chooses to do very often.

Thursday night is somewhat different: Ceil likes to ride up against the edge of a deadline. Fortunately for me, I’m a night owl anyway. She was the first regular writer to join the Nose, and I was concerned at first that “frivolous” writing would water down the site. My vague worries were groundless; a group blog needs some lightheartedness. I can be a deadly serious writer, and Ceil’s pieces have helped me lighten up a little.

Let’s not forget the guest columns we get from time to time; those have been great at shaking things up and keeping the site fresh.

We also had a week-long series, about the tenth anniversary of 911. I’m still amazed that we pulled that one off, with every piece making its deadline.

All these great articles have built this into a site filled with writing I’m proud to be associated with. That’s why the new look of the site highlights the variety of content. I want new readers to see at a glance what’s available here.

What do I offer these writers that they can’t get anywhere else? They could publish their own blogs—some of them do—but writing for someone else means that there’s a deadline. Nothing makes a writer better at writing than sitting down and putting words on paper regularly, and nothing helps them to produce regularly like knowing that there’s somebody waiting for them to finish.

I’m lucky to work with writers who are great at what they do. These people care about the quality of their work. (They also listen to my suggestions, although sometimes not without a little back-and-forth.)

Thanks for writing for the Nose, everybody; we’ve had a great year. 2012 is going to be even better!


Neil Fein is a freelance editor. On the side, he’s the guitarist in the band Baroque & Hungry, he rides his bicycle as much as he can, and he paints when the mood strikes him.

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