Saturday, February 23, 2008

Amateur Alert!

Just because I stopped posting about that article, doesn’t mean I got it finished. Until now, that is.

For those of you who don’t remember, I was asked to do an article by Andaman Discoveries for the English language daily newspaper The Bangkok Post about my trip to the sustainable tourism project. It was one of four articles – the other three being for magazines that are just grateful to get something to fill the pages…

The Bangkok Post article was sent off before Christmas and while I was away on my Skyros holiday I received an email saying that the editor had said it read like a PR piece, and if it could be rewritten to include more of this, and less of that, she would still consider it. I wasn’t able to do anything about it then but told them that I’d redo it in the New Year.

Good gawd, what went wrong? Well, I tried to use the framework of what I’d done to tweak it to their brief – cutting corners? Well, yes, I guess. I tried jamming the square article into a round hole, but it just wasn’t going, despite every effort on my part to persevere. Eventually I accepted that I had to start from scratch, but still I held on to one or two paragraphs that I believed were relevant. Eventually (again) I realised that I’d somehow fallen in love, somewhat myopically, with certain bits of writing from the previous article. The sooner I admitted that they were wrong and didn’t fit the journey for that article, I was nearly there.

It was agonising and I’ve learned, but reckon I haven’t done myself any favours. It’s taken me six or so weeks to deliver; I’ve properly cocked up and come across as a right amateur.

And now, if it comes back not right again, I think I have to say farewell to my fledgling career in journalism …


Pacha said...

Oh... wow. The perseverance! It sounds like you have been on a incredible learning curve about journalism.

I'd be surprise if it did come back!


laurie said...

don't feel bad about rewrites; they're a huge part of journalism, or any published writing. i'm working with a reporter right now on a project and we are on the 17th draft.

that doesn't mean he's not good; he is. it just means the story sometimes takes a while to get where it needs to be.

a roadmap helps. map out what you want to say. and then follow it.

and it's hard to write about a place without sounding PR-y. my solution is to tell a story rather than praise, but i'm not sure what your magazine wanted, exactly, so my advice might not be helpful.

good luck!

SpiralSkies said...

You haven't cocked up - you've simply discovered another way not to do it.

Your determination will speak volumes but I bet it doesn't come back anyway.

SueG said...

I'm sure it's loads better than you think. Everything needs rewriting, doesn't it? And the more you do it, the easier it will get. Keep the faith! xo

hesitant scribe said...

I'm with everyone else on this - firstly, it's a learning curve so don't be so hard on yourself, and secondly, you have delivered now and that's what is important.

Don't give up :)

K.Imaginelli said...

Good job on getting the article out, jj! I second what spiralskies said. :)

Carol and Chris said...

You are waaay to hard on yourself!! Focus on the positive - you have persevered and you have finished it.....That's brilliant!!

C x

JJ said...

Oh Pacha, I hope you're right.

Laurie, that's definitely reassuring, thank you. My problem seems to be that my road map appears as I write, and then I can't emotionally detach from some of the words...

Jen, finger's crossed.

SueG, It's not that I don't expect to rewrite... I rewrote and rewrote and rewrote ... and still couldn't get it right. I just hope I have this time.

Lisa, thanks honey. I'm trying not to.

K.thanks. I did get there (I hope) I'm just not sure I'd know where to go now if it comes back again.

Oh Carol, thanks honey. I think Kelly'll be happy, but it's the Ed at BKP that's got the say...


laurie said...

yeah, i know the feeling. but remember the best advice i ever heard:


that is, if you fall in love with a phrase or a sentence or a chunk of copy, it's probably overwrought and must be excised.


hard, but true. lean, clear, crisp prose is the way to go.