Sunday, March 29, 2009

Two Compliments in One Week

Two nice bits of feedback this week, which are rare enough in the academic-writing life.

First, someone emailed me about The Encyclopedia of Heresies and Heretics, which was my first big project after grad school, back in the early 1990s.

I am a fan of medieval history and refer to it on a regular basis. As other books get read and put back upstairs, the Encyclopedia stays downstairs, because I continue not to be able to keep the early Christianities clear in my mind.

Wow. And guess what, I cannot always keep them clear either.

That book was not written for love but for money -- a friend was acquisitions editor for the original publisher, ABC-Clio, and one day when I was in Denver, he took me to lunch and gave me the "What can you write for us?" speech.

I won't say it is a great book or a classic or anything, but it did make money and it did get me over the hump to where I was writing for an audience, not writing for my professors.

Then on Wednesday I went to the nearest PetsMart store for dog food and sunflower seeds (wild bird food). The store manager came to help out by serving as a cashier since the check-out line was growing.

He majored in English and took my rhetoric class a few years ago. I was in his line in the store, and when I came to the counter, he started telling me how useful the class had been, how he still uses some of the concepts of classical rhetoric when he does training classes, and so on.

Be still, my heart. If you want to make your old professors happy, tell them that you use (or at least occasionally think about) what they taught.

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