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Patience and Publication - Sudden Write Turn Freelance Writing

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Patience and Publication

A year ago this month, my article about Betty Murphy sewing quilts for a unique place on Raquette Lake was published in the Suburban News. The unique place, St. William’s on Long Point, is both an historic site and a soul-replenishing respite nearly in the center of Adirondack Park. The editor encouraged me to pitch an article about St. William’s to Adirondack Life magazine.

It was my first pitch to a national magazine…and they accepted.

What followed was four seasons of getting the article to print:

Season 1:  Visiting

The Husband and I visited St. William’s for a long weekend late last July. Raquette Lake, NY, is a tiny town with a long Adirondack history. We soaked in the locale (and the rain), and found both the town and St. William’s on Long Point to be those types of places that leave a permanent mark on a person.

While The Husband took hundreds of pictures, I interviewed the site managers and anyone else who would indulge me. I walked around Long Point with a notepad, jotting my  thoughts and putting words to my sensations. I thumbed through photo albums and puttered through rooms and woods. I sat, alone, inside St. William’s Church until the sun began to set. All in hopes of ingraining a deep groove into my memory.

Then, I packed up my notes and recordings and went home.

Season 2: Interviewing

In my experience, interviewing people is either really easy or really difficult. Most of the time, being interviewed for a news or magazine article is the opportunity for a person to tell about their life’s passion.

With just a few well-angled questions, a person can be drawn into talking for well over an hour. The tale they tell will flit around like a butterfly – alighting here, darting there, lingering, swooping out of sight, and then reappearing. I just listen. And write as quickly as possible. Because buried in there will be the story.

Sometimes, though, some people just want to be left alone.

I phone-interviewed, or attempted interviews, from early August until just before Christmas. Some people avoided talking to me, but I respected that they had their reasons, tried not to feel personally slighted, and moved on.

Season 3: Writing

Between the first week of January and the first week of March, I wrote 15 drafts. That includes a mildly panicked complete re-write halfway through, and a grueling editing process to pare down from almost 1,500 words to the editor-requested 1,200 words.

My desk was piled with stylebooks, a dictionary, and my reams of notes. I periodically scrolled though The Husband’s photos, trying to get back to a warm evening on Raquette Lake even as a snowstorm swirled outside my window.

I checked and re-checked quotes. I sent follow up emails to clarify those pesky facts. I wrote. And wrote. And wrote.

Then, I submitted the article a month ahead of schedule, because I needed to be done.

Season 4: Editing

You research, you write, and you think it’s perfect. Then, the editor sends a list of questions and a layout of what has been edited so far.

Check your ego at the door. When you send a piece off to an editor, they will edit.

They will take out a turn of phrase that you might think of as the soul of a paragraph. They will shuffle paragraph order so that the sequence now leads to a completely different place. They will do what it takes to make the story fit – with both the magazine’s tone and the space on the pages.

You will smile magnanimously through it all, because the byline is still yours.

CycleThe current issue of Adirondack Life magazine.

One year later, the July/August issue of Adirondack Life is now on newsstands*, with my article on page 17. For months I kept a low profile, knowing that editors can change their minds. Then, I finally had the magazine in my hands. I turn the pages, exhale, and say to myself:

I wrote that.

Get your copy!
Get your copy!

*See my portfolio to read a PDF.

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