Posted in Notes from the Field

Learning the Job

December 30, 2018

I’m on my third book about magazine editing.  I’m sticking to something I learned a few years back: if you don’t know something, then read about it.  Keep reading even when it doesn’t make sense.  With enough exposure to the subject and the different authors writing styles you’ll finally get it.  I like this book the best so far.  One, it is beginning to make sense, and, two, because the author gets into the weeds.  Doesn’t sound attractive, but sometimes it’s where you need to be.

For future self: This is when you started pulling poorly written articles off the internet in an attempt to improve them.  Because you’ve just learned most stories written need improvement and it’s the editor’s job to determine how.  You had your doubts as to whether you could recognize good writing much less turn something bad into good, but you went ahead anyway.  You figured it would be good copyediting practice, too.  The first story you pulled was awful.  It had extraneous information, the opening paragraph was a snooze, and information was repeated for no apparent reason.   You didn’t realize all of this when you decided to make it your first editing trial (what an apt word).  You just knew it was awful.  When you actually sat down to do it you were stymied.  “Was there a way to make this better?”  Then the ideas started coming.  Move this to the opening and create some tension.  Get rid of this.  Trim that.  Expand here.  Is it better?  It couldn’t be any worse, but I’ll let you decide.  I’m going to save it for you: the original and the revised.  A reminder of when you first put your blue pencil to work.  I expect it’ll be a humbling experience.

Back to the present.  I also held my first brainstorming meeting with myself.  It sounds stupid to hold a meeting with oneself, but I’m trying to instill some discipline into all of this.  Plus, the book said another of the editor’s responsibilities is to generate ideas.  It was actually a good meeting.  It started off a little slow, but once I started to think in terms of the magazine title, then I began to get more ideas.  In a way, it could be considered a flop as I didn’t generate ideas for articles, but the magazine started to take shape as to the type of stories it will include.  And that will lead to ideas for articles, so a pretty good start.

And this is a pretty good place to stop.

May God bless you and keep you!

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