Silent screen star Norma Desmond, played by legendary actress Gloria Swanson in the classic movie Sunset Boulevard, did not much care for them. She bashed the new “talkies,” claiming words would “strangle the business.” Her prediction completely missed its mark.
Words are powerful: They can be daggers, they can take hearts away, they can start and end wars, and they can be arranged in an endless combination of nuanced ways.
In this issue we feature stories about and by several of the most masterful writers and poets in contemporary times, including both distinguished professors and superbly talented alumni. Whether writing fiction, nonfiction, poetry, news stories, blogs or translating the written word to stage, words are fundamental to human communication and connection.
Great writers make their craft look easy, but it is an art of continuous revision in striving for perfection. Even the masters can anguish over language. Ernest Hemingway wrote multiple endings to The Old Man and the Sea, the novella for which he won the Nobel Prize in Literature, before settling on the final one.
As you will read inside this issue, writers approach their own work, both practice and process, based on their temperaments. Some write early in the morning, some write at night, some outline their plots in meticulous detail, and some may be surprised at the twists, turns and endings of their stories.
Expertise in writing across disciplines has grown in importance in the past few decades, especially in science and technology. With the ongoing transformation of news media today, we see an explosion of blogs and new social networking channels emerging, which calls for a need to establish writing standards and best practices for the Web. Whatever the medium, great writing is great reading.
This issue’s theme is most fitting as 2009 celebrates the 125th anniversary of USC College’s first magazine, The College Review. We hope you enjoy the latest issue of this longstanding tradition.
Are you ready for your close-up?
— Susan Andrews and Emily Cavalcanti, Office of College Communication