In most careers, the longer you’re in the field, the further away you get from that original passion. Take sales. A salesperson probably lands that first job because of basic selling ability, an outgoing personality, a way with people. As he gets promoted into sales management, he’s behind a desk, managing staff and numbers and crises. He’s no longer out there selling, which is what drew him to the field and made him successful. Of course, he’s still using those original skills, just in different ways.
Journalism jobs suffer a similar fate. Most of us enter the field because we like to write, and our teachers told us we were good at it. Yet all I write anymore is this column. Granted, magazines are different from other publications. While some employ staff writers, most are written by freelancers, which means the editorial staff develops, assigns, and edits the work of outside contributors. Though our pages sometimes feature staff-written pieces, our editors sit on the other side of the metaphoric desk than writers.
Senior editor Tracy Staton “gets back to her roots” not once but twice in this issue, writing both the Lifestyle feature on chef Rick Bayless and a Travel department on remote Mahahual, Mexico.
“Writing and editing are like coming from two different directions to the same place,” Tracy says. “I like to write; it is difficult, and draining, but I like reading something I’ve written and thinking, Wow, did I write that? Because when I’m writing my best, I’m zoned out; I hardly recognize my writing later when I read it.
“Editing has made me a better writer because it’s taught me a lot about story structure,” Tracy says. “Conversely, writing makes me a better editor because I have to think more about organizing the information and drawing the reader in, and it helps me remember what my writers confront each time they get an assignment.”
So make sure to check out Tracy’s pieces, as well as the rest of the magazine. As always, you’ll find lots of good stuff.