50 Words or Less(-ish) Fridays: Mignon Fogarty

This is just what the name implies: Each week, I ask someone interesting a question and request that she/he respond in 50 words or less.

Or somewhere in the ballpark of 50 words. That’s why there’s an “-ish.” I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but this site isn’t exactly a bastion of rigidity.

Saying that today,Mignon Fogarty I’m being joined by a woman after my own heart would be a colossal understatement. (Although I make no claims to be as well-versed in the technicalities of the English language as she is; that would be like comparing this performance to Carly Rae Jepsen’s.)

Her name is Mignon Fogarty, and she is the creator of the Grammar Girl podcast and website as well as the founder of the Quick and Dirty Tips network. Grammar Girl podcast listeners range from CEOs and writers to prisoners continuing their education and ESL students in China. The show was named the 2012 winner of the Best Education Podcast in the Podcast Awards while the website was selected as one of Writer’s Digest’s 101 Best Websites for Writers in 2011 and 2012.

As if that weren’t enough, Mignon is also the author of The New York Times best-seller Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing and has published six other books on writing. Often quoted in the media about language issues, she has appeared as a guest on The Oprah Winfrey Show and been featured by The New York Times, Businessweek, the Washington Post, USA Today, CNN.com, and more. She hates the phrase “grammar nazi” and loves the word “kerfuffle.” You can find her on Twitter, as almost a quarter-of-a-million others have, as @GrammarGirl.

Given her almost superhuman credentials, I was interested in her origins story:

How did you become a superhero whose quest is to rid the world of bad grammar?

I always loved the Schoolhouse Rock! videos but realized that I can’t sing. (I took lessons. According to YouTube comments, it didn’t help.) After ruling out singing, podcasting was the clear Plan B. 

The idea of “Grammar Girl” just popped into my head. I didn’t initially think of her as a superhero. She’s more like a friendly guide in my mind, but people seem to assume she’s a superhero, so that’s OK with me. I just hope I get bitten by a weird, grammatically brilliant spider someday and acquire superpowers to go with my superhero status.

That makes two of us. And apparently Mignon and I share the gift of “non-standard musical storytelling.”

See, kids? Writing lets you spin anything.

Huge thanks to Mignon for coming by this week. I really hope this isn’t a post where I discover a typo two months from now.

Interested in being featured in “50 Words or Less(-ish) Fridays” or know someone who should be? Let me know. Also, feel free to check out the archive of past guests. But no pressure.

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