Friday, May 18, 2018
May 18, 2018: Spring Semester Recaps: My Saturday Evening Post Gig
[As another semester concludes, a series recapping some of the wonderful texts we read in my classes, along with some other Spring work of mine. Leading up to a preview of coming attractions for the Summer and Fall semesters. I’d love to hear about your work, past, present, or future, in comments!]
On two things I’ve learned in my first few months at a new online gig.
Starting this past January, I’ve been writing pieces every two weeks for the Saturday Evening Post online. My editor Jennifer Bortel has been wonderful to work with, and to be honest it’s been a dream come true to write for the same magazine that featured all those wonderful Norman Rockwell covers (among many other important pieces across nearly three centuries of publication). All of my pieces to date are collected at the first hyperlink above, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on any of them or anything else I might cover in this gig.
As with any new writing opportunity, there have been adjustments and takeaways as I’ve figured out and started to navigate this new space and community. My other two longstanding online writing gigs were for overtly progressive websites—first Talking Points Memo, and then the HuffPost—and so by far the biggest shift for this community has been writing for an audience that does not have such a clear political perspective or affiliation (and skews at least a bit older). For my first piece in particular, on immigration laws and exclusions in American history, my early drafts connected those histories to contemporary issues and debates a bit too blatantly, and Jen and I worked hard to craft a version that focuses on the histories themselves, and mostly allows readers to consider for themselves the applications of those histories to 2018 America.
I’ve also learned a second, related thing about topics. For those other two gigs, the vast majority of my pieces began with timeliness, with something specific in the news or contemporary society to which I was responding. That’s happened occasionally for the Post; but in truth since I’m not focusing on those contemporary connections in the pieces, there’s less need to worry about particular such connections as starting points. Which has freed me up to think about other kinds of pieces: responses to historical anniversaries, engagements with commemorations like Black History Month and Women’s History Month, figures or events I just want to make the case for adding to our collective memories, and more. I believe this new perspective has led to some of my most unique online pieces to date, and I look forward to seeing where the next months and pieces take me!
Summer/Fall preview this weekend,
PS. What have you been or are you working on?