Monday, December 8, 2008

Hard to Hear

Last week, I sent my first article in to an online cycling magazine. After I answered their ad and sent them my clips and a link to my cycling blog, they contacted me and asked me to do a short (two paragraphs) piece as a trial for them. Some freelancers refuse to do trial pieces that are unpaid, but I base my decision on the situation. I was willing to do it for this one since it was so short and they were looking for a vastly different type of writing than what is represented in any of my clips. Besides, I really wanted this gig because cycling is my most significant hobby and I am thrilled to write about something for which I genuinely have a lot of interest. They really liked my sample piece and called me a few days later to talk about my first article.

It gets better. It turns out that they wanted art for the article, too, and they were willing to pay for any photos I had that went with the article. Well, it just so happens that my husband, who has a cushy State job in IT, is an amateur photographer with a decent entry-level SLR camera that takes pretty good pictures. He's also a cyclist and bike racer. Needless to say, we were thrilled to be able to sell some of his photos.

I submitted my first draft of the article early last week. I wasn't overwhelmed with the result—for some reason I was having trouble getting into it and it was hard writing in the style they wanted. I turned in the article because I didn't want it to be late, but I'll admit it wasn't my best work. It wasn't total crap, but I knew I could do better.

Luckily, they gave me some positive feedback, but asked me to add a few more details. I was so glad they did because the second time around I got really into it and I was so much more pleased with the product and they were, too. It went to the editor for final editing and they chose several photos to complement the article.

When I received the edited version, it was prefaced by an explanation from the editor. He indicated that he had edited it a lot more harshly than he normally would, just because he wanted me to get used to the style they wanted. He did tell me that I was still free to propose changes. I got the message on my BlackBerry while I was out and was on pins and needles until I could get home to open the attachment.

The first time I read through the article I started crying. I wasn't that attached to the article, but just the suggestion that I was inferior because of how much he changed was so upsetting. It didn't look anything like what I had submitted. After letting myself calm down for a few minutes, I read through it a second time and I saw something a little different. Most of the wording really was mine—he had just rearranged the order and changed the punctuation to come up with an altered flow.

We got a sneak preview of the article last Friday and I am so excited to be able to post the link on my blogs and on Facebook when it's released to the public. I'm just amazed at how good it looks with all of the photos. It's written in a very conversational, first person style and any of my English teachers would cringe at the way it's punctuated (or not, as the case may be), but I'm still very proud of it. It's amazing how any reservations I had just disappeared when I saw the end result.

I want to post some analysis of my reaction to the edits, but this post is already far too long, so I'll save that for another day.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

I'm so glad you found my blog, because it certainly seems like we're doing a very similar thing right now! I've added you to my reader and I will follow your blog/career with interest.

It's great that you've had an article accepted for an online magazine! I haven't gotten to the point in freelancing yet where I'd had anything handed back, heavily edited, but I remember the agony of professors bleeding red ink all over my papers in college! Even though it's hard to see that, it sounds like it wasn't a problem with your content, just an adjustment for the publication's particular style, so I hope you don't feel too bad!