By Rebecca Brinson

Rebecca Brinson is an editor and writer and a cofounder of Northwest Essay, a personal statement editing service. She'll have a Gibson, please, extra onions. Follow her on Twitter.

  1. As you doubtlessly recall, the "I'm Goin' to Praiseland" episode of The Simpsons opens with an ice cream festival at the church. Lisa, listing the ice creams at Rev. Lovejoy's table: "Wow, look at all these flavors! Blessed Virgin Berry, Commandmint, Bible Gum…" Rev. Lovejoy, handing her a bowl: "Or, if you prefer, we also have Unitarian ice cream!" Lisa, peering into the bowl: "There's nothing here." Rev. Lovejoy, crossing his arms smugly: "Exactly." The…

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  2. Previous installments in this series can be found here.

    There are many ways in which the world has changed in the last century: polio vaccinations, personal computers, removal of anti-miscegenation laws, the new iterations of the endless generational cycle of boy bands required to soothe the Old Ones in their slumber. But perhaps one of the most indicative of how the world has shifted, particularly in the labor market and in publishing, is…

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  3. Previous installments in this series can be found here. A self-sufficient, rural wife who blogs about farm life gets a memoir deal—the idea has become nearly cliché. But Laura Ingalls Wilder beat Ree Drummond to it by 80 years. Wilder wasn't blogging, obviously, but she was as close as you could get in the pre-Depression Ozarks, writing a regular column on topics like raising chickens and the business of farming for the Missouri…

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  4. In his 1950 essay, "The Simple Art of Murder," Raymond Chandler gripes: "[t]he average detective story is probably no worse than the average novel, but you never see the average novel. It doesn’t get published. The average--or only slightly above average--detective story does." Among the "average" detective writers he calls out is Agatha Christie. He's partly right--her murders are often unrealistic (Really? They were all the killer?) and she shamelessly recycles story elements. But…

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