Under the Hood: I wrote a story! Athenaeum, Inside N&E, PR musings, Under the Hood

Sometimes it’s good to step outside of your comfort zone.

Even in high school, I preferred to be behind the scenes—literally. I joined the stage crew and left the acting and singing up to more talented students. In college I found the perfect profession and got to “live the dream” after I graduated and joined the Democrat and Chronicle as a copy editor. No photos, no bylines, no blogs—no one even really knows what a copy editor does.

Now in my role as editorial assistant for University News, I remain mostly behind-the-scenes. Until Bob Finnerty, the big cheese in my office, asked me to look into a story idea.

Naturally, I didn’t want to, but I’m not going to say no to the boss. It’s been a while since I’ve had to write anything more substantial than a blog post (which I write when I want, about what I want).  But from my not-so-long-ago journalism-student days, I knew what to do. I just had to do it.

My first “interview” was conducted, to my relief, over e-mail. But eventually I had to conduct a phone interview. And I hate the phone. I procrastinated for about a week until I worked up the nerve to pick up the darn thing and punch in the numbers and spew out my rehearsed “Hello, this is Marie Lang with RIT’s University News, do you have a few minutes….” Of course my subject was lovely and bubbly, and spoke much much faster than I could type, but it was a pleasant conversation and I got what I needed.

My second phone interview went down in a similar fashion, but at least this subject had a few more “ums” and “uhs” to give me a second to catch up.

The actual writing process was like riding a bike. Once I talked to all my subjects, I knew my “lede.” I banged out almost 500 words in one sitting and was very pleased with myself. I left it alone for a day, then went back and changed just about everything. (Self-editing is the hardest but most necessary part of the writing process. Your first draft sounds genius, but believe me: It’s not.)

I sent it along to my colleagues, who gave me some great feedback. Then I sent it to my sources for one last check. A few minor adjustments here and there, a quick trip to Greece for some photos and voilà, a story was born. (To read it, click here!)

To my delight, my story ended up running in the current Athenaeum issue, which is on stands now.

So the whole process wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. And I have to admit, it’s nice to see my byline again. But I’m glad to be back at my regular behind-the-scenes post, knowing I can take the stage if I had to.

 
  1. Sue
    Oct 17

    Congratulations on your story in the Athenaeum, Marie. Maybe this will be the start of a beautiful friendship!

  2. Ellen Shady
    Oct 17

    Congratulations, Marie! From a fellow behind-the-scener.

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