The Editorial Game
I’m by no means a seasoned writer – I’ve only the experience of Catholic school grammar and student newspapers. But this year I took a leap of faith and put my education on hold to live a year beyond the classroom. After taking random writing assignments for websites and Craigslist ads (generally a sketchy forum to find work in) I started interning at 435 South Magazine, the south Johnson County Home Journal of sorts, as the Editorial Assistant to the Managing Editor. I had a fancy title and an office on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
I spent the next six months of my life completely immersed in the culture of this very specific community – a prospering suburb that continually outgrows itself inhabited by affluent families and enriched by new businesses of savvy entrepreneurs with a keen eye for consumer-driven markets. It was a powerful environment with a style all its own – clean and American, classic but never static.
We prepared two months in advance for an issue and my job was to ensure certain monthly departments were either assigned or written, in an effort to lighten the load of my very over-worked boss. Overtime, I grew to understand the direction of 435 South – it’s readers: married and single women age 35 and older; it’s advertisers: local businesses selling trendy products and services; it’s design and content: mirroring that of People Magazine, witty, cordial and confident.
To impress my boss and publisher, I often worked beyond request. Future stories were popping up everywhere, future events had to be covered and interesting people had to be interviewed – it was a dream job for someone my age and with my level of experience. And better than anything, they trusted me – so I delivered.
It was here I learned the importance of media on the web. Overtime, the 435 South website became very important to the relevance of the publication, as it became more apparent that print is dying. And now that my internship has ended and I prepare to return to the classroom, I have ants in my pants about the whole idea – writing and readership and the web.
It has revolutionized the way I want to write and conduct my career as a writer. It is one fat reason I launched Readcoco. All writers must believe their work is worth reading, by lots of people, otherwise the effort is entirely mute. Though the subject of my work to come is unknown and unknowable, it will come and I will be prepared to compose it as a professional would.
I received an email this week from Stanislaus Magazine, the 435 South of Modesto, California. They assigned me a story on smart stoves for their Nov./Dec. “Tech Talk” department. I spent all day Monday calling magazines in Houston to schedule interviews with editors of certain publications. I have two interested in an internship and one “looking for the Caucasian perspective.” And a year ago, I would have questioned, why read coco? But after 435 South, I have a fire in my belly that has me screaming at the top of my lungs (in blogspeak) Yes – Readcoco! I can be a student and a writer and I’m not settling for obscurity.
Here’s to Houston and my writing dreams. To be continued…