Editors at Work: San Antonio Express-News

Jamie Stockwell is managing editor of the San Antonio Express-News in San Antonio, Texas.

How did you get into editing?

I graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, and I had a degree in journalism. I moved to Washington, D.C. for an internship at The Washington Post. I worked there as a reporter for eight years covering primarily criminal justice issues. I moved back to my native south Texas 10 years ago to become a criminal justice editor. After editing for a couple of years I became the metro editor, and then from there I became the managing editor, which is what I do now. I oversee the daily operations of the newsroom and our subscriber websites.

To be a successful editor, what skills do you consider critical?

I think the same skills that are really critical for a reporter, too, and that’s, above all, a curiosity. There are a lot of things that we can help shape, but we can’t fix an incurious person. With editors I really look for patience, too, and an ability to coach and mentor the younger reporters on staff. I think a bit of fearlessness and some skepticism, too, is really important. We always want to take people at their word, but you’ve got to have a little bit of skepticism to question and not be afraid to question.

What do you love about your job? 

I just love working with reporters and editors from the beginning of reporting all the way through to the final editing. I love working with the designers to get it packaged and presented in a very interactive and engaging fashion online, and then in print so that it feels more like a lean-back experience where it’s something that readers can really spend some time with. I love the aspect of being out in the community. It’s really important to get to know the everyday reader who has a truly vested interest in what we do and why we exist. I try to meet with people as often as I can and go to events, and just get to know not just our readers, but the people who are implementing policies and voting on major issues.

What challenges do you face in your role?

The biggest challenge is getting reporters to really understand the importance of early deadlines that are digitally driven to capture the online readers and to really engage with them and interact with them in a way that’s very different from print. Beyond the competitive issues, people are very busy, so trying to find a space where we can get into their lives a little bit and help them learn more about the community.

Can you give an example of how you do that?

I moderated a panel called Headlines & Hops. I had on the panel my political reporters, and we talked a lot about local politics, state politics and national politics. It was great because we had 200 people show up for this—all subscribers or new subscribers— and they were really engaged and interested, and a lot of them stayed afterwards to talk to us.

 

The San Antonio Express-News has paid summer internship opportunities at is newsroom in San Antonio, Texas.

 — Lauren Rose DiNuzzo, M.A. ’19

 

Editors at Work: Norton

Erik Fahlgren is a vice president and the chemistry and astronomy editor in the college division of W.W. Norton.

What is a typical day like for you at Norton?

As an editor, I probably don’t do as much editing as someone might expect. In other businesses, I might be called a brand manager. My job is to find authors and understand what the market wants in a textbook and the things that go with a textbook and then find authors to create that material. I do some editing, but really I work on a much bigger picture with the authors to make sure that they’re doing the things that people who teach the courses they’re writing books for want. In a day, I might be talking to my authors, talking to the developmental editors that are working on the projects, reading reviews. 

How did you get into college textbook editing?

One of the things that’s different about college textbook publishing is that editors almost always come through sales. I started my career as a college sales rep. I called on college campuses, talked to professors about the courses they teach and then tried to get them to “adopt” my textbooks. From there I went into marketing and then editorial.

Why science textbooks, though?

I kind of fell into it. As a student, I did not like science. When I got into sales and I started talking to scientists about how they teach and the kinds of struggles they had and what motivated them, I found them to be really interesting. I was pretty good at talking to them and getting them to use my books. That caught the eye of companies I worked for that maybe I was a good fit for science. I’ve been in it long enough now that I tell people, “I know enough science to be dangerous.”

So editing science textbooks was never your plan as an English major?

It was not what I intended to do. I’m not sure what I intended to do. I think at one point I thought maybe I would be a writer, and then at another point maybe I would be an English teacher. I got to meet some people who were publishing sales reps. I thought what they did sounded pretty cool. That was the job I wanted, and I got that job. Then, as I worked in that job, people mentioned that I seemed to give feedback to the office about things we should probably do to our books that would make them a better fit for my customers. I was promoted through marketing and into editorial. I did not have a grand plan, so that’s how that worked.

How did you deal with the learning curve of editing a subject that you didn’t really like and weren’t familiar with?

By the time I got into editorial, I did like the subject. I think that science education is extremely important. I’m not going to say that I understand it all, but it’s right at that place where I’m okay. I’m also not afraid to say when I don’t know. A lot of what I do is trust my authors. I think that, as an editor, it’s important to know when to trust them and when to push them and get them to do something they didn’t think they wanted to do or hadn’t thought about doing.

Science textbooks can be expensive. Why?

There is a lot of money that goes into what we do. All of the art that is created, we have to hire a studio to work with the author and developmental editor to develop the art. There is a long revision process. We hire different professors and pay them to read chapters and give feedback. The author may write the manuscript in Word, but that has to be put into InDesign, and that’s what makes the pages look the way they do. That, again, is costly. Then there’s photo permissions. The other things that are outside of the book that students may or may not see are the instructor’s resources. We hire people to write test banks, to write instructor’s manuals, to create PowerPoint slideshows. We spent millions of dollars on an online homework system and the content that goes in there so that homework can be graded and students can get feedback in real time. Some of those things are also done for English books, let’s say, but the cost of the photos and the art and on the media side, if we do things like animations and videos, those are additional costs that all get wrapped up into the price of the textbook.

 

W.W. Norton offers internships for rising juniors and seniors in its Managing Editorial Department as well as numerous other opportunities listed here.

—Leslie Briggs, ’17, M.A. ‘18

Editors at Work: Trion Group

Danielle Bullen Love, ’05, M.A. ‘06, is a communications specialist at Trion Group, a corporate employee benefits provider. She is also a freelance writer and former managing editor of Merion Matters, a parent company of ADVANCE Healthcare Network.

What’s your editing style, in terms of how you offer feedback? 

I always give reasoning because I always like to receive reasoning myself. I might frame it as more of a suggestion than a command by saying something like, “Have you thought about this?” It’s about being open and being encouraging, to make sure the writer knows you’re on their side. It’s not the editor against the writer. It’s the editor and the writer working together as a team. A big part of being an editor is being a diplomat, knowing what to say, when to say it, and knowing how to say it. If you’re the editor, ultimately it’s your responsibility for the quality of the project that goes out, so sometimes you have to put your foot down, and you have to say “These are my changes.”

What about fact-checking? Is that part of your process?

As a freelancer, I fact-check. One of my old companies had kind of an unusual policy of letting sources review the articles before we published them. It’s my understanding that not a lot of people do that. Anyone who was quoted in a story read an advanced copy for an accuracy check. If anything got lost in translation between when the writers interviewed them and when we did the finished product, they would have the opportunity to look at it. I recommend fact-checking if your company does this. See if you can get a second verified source to follow up with. Especially in healthcare, you’re going to be dealing with a lot of numbers and stats, so you want to make sure they’re accurate.

What makes good web content, and how do you measure whether or not a piece is doing well?

What makes good content is the same for print and web. Is it valuable and is it interesting? “Is it valuable” means “is it valuable to the target audience?” Different audiences value different content. As long as you keep the reader and who you’re trying to reach in mind and make the content valuable and interesting for them, it really doesn’t matter whether it’s web or print. Success can be measured in lots of ways. It can be measured in page views and hits, and we use Google Analytics for that. We also track through social media, likes and shares, so we can see how popular an article is, following how it travels.

What advice would you give to new writers and editors?

When you’re looking for freelance or full-time work, reach out to your network. Let everyone know you’re looking, even people who aren’t in the field. Another tip is to have an online portfolio and list it on your LinkedIn profile and email signature. It’s an easy way to direct people to your writing.

—Amanda Rebuck, ’17

Editors at Work: Chicago Tribune

Kathleen O’Malley is a copy editor for the Chicago Tribune.

How did you choose a career in copy editing? 

I was always good as a kid at pointing out things that were wrong or reworking things that were wrong. My first job was at my hometown newspaper in Muncie, Indiana. For my interview, I took a week’s worth of papers and marked them up. I went in and said, “If you hire me, this stuff wouldn’t happen.” I stayed there for 10 years.

What is your general process for copyediting a story?

I read through the entire story, making small fixes as needed. I read through a second time, looking for holes or other questions for the reporter. The final time, I make sure all changes make sense. You should read every story as if you are a reader of the newspaper. You’ll likely have the same questions in a story that a reader might.

With today’s news of the Congressman Steve Scalise shooting, what was the newsroom like?

Today was interesting. The story was localized because the shooter was from Illinois, so the Metro desk had someone writing a profile of the gunman. The National and Foreign desks were doing their things. Opinion was writing editorials about it. There’s a lot of coordinating to get stuff up on the website and have it all mesh with each other. We had to make sure the details were right. Stupid stuff like “Are we going to use this guy’s middle initial?” Metro had “Five people wounded in the shooting,” and it turns out one story had “Five people injured.” Another had “Five people injured but one wasn’t shot.” It’s just a matter of getting all those facts to match.

How do you get those things to match?

I was reading an editorial that stated, “Five people wounded,” and I was thinking all five of those people had been shot. And oddly enough, I looked up and CNN had on its crawl, “Four people injured.” Was it four or five? I went to the other desks and asked what they had going on in their stories. I went to the Metro editor to see what they had and then called the Opinion person and said: “These people have this, and those people have this. We need make it match what the actual situation was.” That took about 20 minutes to straighten out. It’s really embarrassing when your paper has three different versions of something happening.

What’s your advice for aspiring copy editors?

Challenge yourself. Dive into the deep end, and trust you’ll figure it out. I’ve gotten a “baptism by fire” at a couple of my jobs, and while I was terrified of failing, I always came out fine. If there’s a job you want, don’t give up. It took multiple attempts to get the jobs I wanted. Once I was invited to take a copyediting test, and it took another year before I was hired. Be flexible, and you’ll be viewed as a team player.

 

Saint Joseph’s University students interested in post-graduate training opportunities in Tribune-owned newsrooms in Chicago or Los Angeles or for the digital news site tronc.com should visit the Metpro website.

—Kevin Kaufman, M.A. ’18

Editors at Work: Suburban Life

Theodora Malison, ’15, ’16 M.A., is the managing editor of Suburban Life magazine.

What are your responsibilities as managing editor?

Basically, my job is putting the whole book together. I work very closely with our editor in chief as well. My job is a lot of writing about different topics whether it’s fine dining, education, home improvement, health and fitness, and luxury living. I also manage the photography aspect of the publication. Because we distribute to four different regions, I have to pick all 25 magazine covers.

 What does it take to be a good editor?

Anybody who works in publishing or journalism is constantly on deadline. Going into my second year, I’ve learned a whole different level of patience, whereas when I first started I used to be in panic mode. You can either panic, or you can sit back and realize this is the nature of the industry. To be a good editor, you not only have to be a good writer but you have to have a certain level of patience and you have to be level-headed because things are going to get crazy here and there.

What surprises you most about managing a magazine?

 I’m actually always surprised at how we get a magazine out every month. We have an editorial meeting twice a week, and we always have a game plan for how we want to execute things, but nothing ever really goes to plan.

 How do you approach stories when you know nothing about the topic?

 When I first started with Suburban Life, my first story that I was assigned was on mold remediation. I didn’t know anything about mold remediation—I don’t even own a home—so sometimes you sit there and think what am I going to do? But again, you’re a journalist. It’s all about doing your research. When I got this mold remediation profile, I had to do a lot of research into this guy’s business: what areas he serves, what mold remediation was, what mold is toxic for you. You find out so many different things. We joke around at work and say we’re all like Snapple caps because we always have these random facts we know about things. It can be stressful, but if you have an open-minded approach, you’re going to learn something new, and everything will be okay in the end.

You worked as a magazine intern while you were a student at St. Joe’s. Now, you are in charge of interns. How do you measure whether an intern is up for an editing task?  

Basically, like they say, you never know until you try. If I throw something at them, I’ll tell them to mark up the page, and if I see they’re getting things, then I know they’re on their way to being capable of handling larger responsibilities. But the reality is that we’ve had interns who haven’t gotten that far. If you see them missing basic grammatical errors or their writing isn’t up to speed with what we’re looking for, then we know they’re not ready. But it’s not to say you can’t help them and push them there. And that’s what I ultimately try to do: Push each intern that comes in to really put out their best work.

 

Suburban Life offers internships at its Marlton, New Jersey, office. For additional information, email Teddy Malison at tmalison@suburbanlifemagazine.com.

           —Robert Cusella, ’14, ’19 M.A.

 

Editors at Work: Motivos

Jenée Chizick-Agüero is the founder and publisher of Motivos, the nation’s largest bilingual magazine with youth-generated content.

What led you to start Motivos?

My parents are both educators. I didn’t see myself as anyone with classroom discipline skills. Philly pubic school are hard! But I wanted to impact youth. I wanted to help them reach their full potential.

Why did you decide to focus on the Latino community?

 In my [graduate] thesis, which was all about addressing the academic achievement gap amongst Latinos in the U.S., a lot of it was based on self-esteem. People are pushing down on your language and your culture, and they’re telling you you’re not good enough, so there’s this disparity, this difference in equity. Starting with culture and lifting it up kind of starts to even the scales. It’s really, really important to empower underserved communities, communities of color, with that knowledge, with that power, to be able to tell their own stories and bring light to the positive things that are happening because that’s not always shown or told in the mainstream media.

What does Motivos mean?

It comes from motivation. We’re always teaching students that why you did something is more important than what you actually did. If you know why you’re doing it, that will drive your decisions. And if you face things in life that are challenging, you’re going to know if it’s a yes or no because you know why you’re doing what you’re doing. You know what your future goals are. We teach them to identify their passion and connect it with a purpose to strategize for a future they see themselves in.

How do your young readers benefit from the content that Motivos offers?

Students benefit because they can get near peer role models. They get internships and fellowships. They can get published and that goes in their resumes for college. We’ve been to national conferences. We’ve traveled internationally to build schools in Honduras. We did a cross-cultural exchange to Columbia, South America. We try to get the kids out and about. Parents benefit because they’re super proud of their kids. They’re so excited that their son or daughter is being highlighted for something positive that they’re doing.

What’s the best part of your work?

 It allows me to help youth reach their full potential and to shine. Just the feedback of “no one ever told me I could do this”: That is my mark of success. Before I ever started, I thought, what is my mark of success? If I know I impacted at least one life, then I’m on the right track. We tell students, “You don’t know who’s reading your story and whose life you’re going to change. You’re making an impact.”

 

Motivos accepts submissions in English and Spanish from high school students, college students and other adults. Volunteers are also needed to assist with editing and with writing workshops. For more information, fill out the contact form on the Motivos website.


–Michelle Histand, ’17, M.A.

Editors at Work: The World Bank

Bassam Sebti, M.A.’08, is the web and social media editor at The World Bank.

How did you end up at The World Bank?

After I graduated from Saint Joseph’s University, I got a job at a nonprofit organization in D.C. and became the editor of a multilingual website. A few years later, I landed a job at a news website that focuses on fighting terrorism and extremism, but I still wanted to continue exploring other opportunities. I was finally able to find a really great opportunity as a social media editor and web editor and writer for The World Bank in Arabic. To get there is a bit difficult, and it requires exams, a lot of interviews, background checks, so it took them about eight months to offer me the job, which is actually considered expedited. But it’s the biggest financial institution in the world, and there are thousands of people who work there.

What are your day-to-day responsibilities?

I am the Arabic web and social media editor, so I read articles before they’re published in Arabic and I sign off on whether they can be published or not. I also assign content to the home page and news pages of The World Bank’s multilingual website. I develop the social media messaging strategies for the Arabic service on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Because of my writing studies degree, I also have the opportunity to write blogs and feature stories in English and manage The World Bank’s Flipboard account, which is a news aggregator app that we use to create magazines about specific topics. In addition, I manage Road to Refuge, a website that belongs to The World Bank. Road to Refuge is a platform on what The World Bank does regarding forced displacement issues like the refugee crisis. I manage that platform in English and in Arabic.

What editing challenges do you encounter on social and digital platforms?

The first challenge is that I am not currently living in the Middle East or North Africa. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t keep up with what’s going on there. The good thing about social media is that the trends are global, but the global aspect of social media can only help so much. There will always be a time difference, so I must also keep up with timing in specific regions when I post or schedule content on different social media channels. The other challenge is continuing to understand the Arabic-speaking audience. Things are changing quickly in the Middle East and North Africa. Some places are getting worse. Other places are getting better. The challenge is keeping up with everything happening and changing.

On Twitter, how do you convey complex issues in 140 characters or less?

This is where my role comes in to provide the whole package to the user in one tweet. For me, the web complements social media and social media complements the web. Sometimes you can’t have a tweet without a link in order to ensure that tweet makes sense. In this case, as a social media manager, you have to really comprehend what the story is about so that you get the user to click on the link to learn more about what you posted in that tweet. It’s all about strategy, getting creative and using visuals. We use a lot of visuals when it comes to Twitter, like videos, gifs, infographics and data charts because we work in the development field and conveying information on the economy and business development needs a lot of creativity.

How much of what you do now did you learn on the job?

When it comes to social media, I learned it by practice. As a social media manager in my first job in the United States in 2008, I continued to learn about online publishing and social media publishing. I started attending conferences and workshops about keeping up with the latest social media trends. What I found at my current job is if new strategies work, they work. If they don’t, that’s all right, too. It’s all part of innovation.

Do you find yourself using any skills you picked up in the writing studies master’s program here at St. Joe’s?

A lot of my writing and editing is inspired by what I had learned in the program, and it made me get to where I am now as a writer and editor at such a big organization like The World Bank. I am also mostly interested in highlighting the human side of the story, which is something I learned a lot through the program. Humans give context to the content. For example, at The World Bank, we have a lot of reports and data related to development that sometimes people find too hard to understand or even relate to. In my writing, I make them relate to that by connecting the data with the human side of the topic. People relate with people more than they relate with numbers.

 

The World Bank lists program and internship opportunities on its website.

—Teresa Tellekamp, ’16, ’19 M.A.

Editors at Work: Organic Life

Gina Tomaine, ’10, is associate deputy editor at Rodale’s Organic Life. While an English and economics major at Saint Joseph’s University, she wrote for The Hawk and for Crimson and Gray. She received an M.F.A. in creative nonfiction from Emerson College in 2013.

How did you find yourself at Organic Life? 

I began at Rodale’s Organic Life in 2016 as a lifestyle editor for their Organic Life Magazine. Now, as associate deputy editor, I produce and assign the media for the digital platform that has taken the place of the traditional print magazine.

What are some of the challenges of shifting from editing a print publication to editing an online publication?

Learning to navigate the challenges that come with publishing to a web page rather than the traditional media we have been used to for so long has been an ongoing issue for legacy media brands like Organic Life. For example, well-designed stories meant to be read as articles are now condensed to web page layouts viewed on an iPhone, tablet or laptop screen. It not only changes the aesthetics and feel of how the article is meant to be seen and read, but it can, in some ways, change its interpretation, too. In the past, publishing for print meant long meetings, planning and design sessions, and more investment in each individual story. Because we simply don’t have the time or platform any more to invest in an entire spread, we dedicate our time to individual pieces with catchy headlines in hopes that people will click and read. This is the strategy most media brands have adopted.

How often do you publish?

It used to be six times a year, and now it’s six times a day. Each piece is allotted time for one round of edits. The benefit of publishing to an online platform is that you have the ability to edit in real time after the story goes live. Publishing at this pace is difficult and definitely not the best way to do things. However, the demands of the industry have changed, and we are still figuring out how to meet those demands while sustaining the integrity of the brand.

How has editing impacted you as a writer?

Though I have always seen myself as more of a writer, taking on an editorial role has allowed me to step back and realize the mistakes that I am making in my own writing. Editing has improved my ability to write by helping me truly focus on the content and attention to the details that enhance the piece.

What is the most rewarding thing about your job?

It’s rewarding to work in a creative field full time. I also truly appreciate the content that Organic Life publishes because I enjoy and support the brand’s mission—sustainability. The content we produce is useful, engaging, and encourages sustainability from our readers. I also get the opportunity to work with a multitude of writers, many of whom are extremely grateful and excited to write a piece for the magazine.

 

Click here for more information on spring, summer and fall paid internship opportunities at Rodale.

—Anna Boyce, ’17

 

Editors at Work: Billy Penn

Shannon Wink is managing editor of Billy Penn, an online-only Philly news website.

How did you get into journalism?
In eighth grade I decided I was going to be a journalist, kind of out of nowhere. I worked at my high school paper, which was not very journalism-based at all. I declared my major as journalism when I got to Temple. I really liked writing, so I thought I’d do the journalism thing, and when I got to Temple, I realized that journalism was a million different things. It’s not just writing. It’s interviewing and reporting, and it just so happened that I enjoyed all of that stuff and was good at it.

What makes Billy Penn different from other news outlets in Philadelphia?

We are designed to look super nice on your phone, and totally fine on your desktop, the idea being that we’re trying to reach a younger, more mobile audience.

What about content?

We try to do things that are a little bit more explainer style— the whys and the hows— and not necessarily chasing stories. We only have three reporters, and their job is also to curate the news. They take shifts on Twitter—they’re adding the curated links to our site—so they do not have time to go to the press conference that everyone else is going to in the city that day. We can link out directly to other news sites.

What is your typical day like?

I usually start between 6 and 6:30 a.m. We do a daily newsletter, so reporters will file their stories, and then we look around for other things to curate. I try to put some of it together the day before. Then, the morning of, we’re looking for fresh stuff to put in there.

I get to the office around 9 or 9:30. Unless there’s breaking news, that’s the slow time when I can either catch up on email or circle back on a longer story that we’re working on and do some edits on that. By the time 2 o’clock rolls around, we’re getting ready for the next day.  We have a month’s worth of stories planned out at any given time. All of that stuff is due a day or two before it’s supposed to run, so we’re prepping all of those stories, so the next morning we can focus on whatever it is that we’re going to cover that day. The middle of the day is whatever Philadelphia can throw at us that day.

Who is your competition?
If you’re in Philly (or interested in Philly) and you have 10 minutes to spare, we want you to spend those 10 minutes with us— not with the Inquirer, not taking a Buzzfeed quiz, not playing some dumb game on your phone.

 

Billy Penn offers paid editorial internship opportunities for qualified candidates who can produce written and multimedia content. Pitch-based freelance opportunities are also available.

   —Sean Woods, ’09, M.A. ’17

Editors at Work: Assay

Karen Babine, Ph.D., is founding editor and editor in chief of the online journal Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies. She is author of  “Water and What We Know: Following the Roots of a Northern Life” (2015). 

As a writer, editor and teacher, how do the different roles in your career benefit, or conflict, with one another?  

The glib answer is that they all feed each other for me. For my own writing, I tell my editor, ‘I love to be edited.’ I’m a writer who likes to have someone look at my writing and say, ‘I see this thing. Push this a little harder. Back off on this.’ You stare at something long enough, you can’t see anything in your own work.

My role as an editor is to not trample on the writer’s vision or what they plan to do with that piece, especially when it comes to the magazine. We get a significant number of pieces that are lectures. We don’t want lectures. We want written documents. I need to ask writers to revise the oral quality out of it.

What is Assay’s overall mission?

Assay’s mission is to be an open and welcoming community for all nonfiction writers across disciplines. We exercise that mission by kind and clear communication with writers; absolute respect for our submitters in our treatment and response to their manuscripts, which includes not only our respectful approach to rejection letters and the feedback they contain but also timely return of their manuscripts; and respect for writers of all experience levels, from undergraduates through senior scholars. All are welcome in Assay’s pages. In many cases, nonfiction writers are the only one in their departments, which can feel lonely and isolating. By having the journal online, by creating a space for pedagogy where we can share syllabi, ideas, etc., we work towards a stronger nonfiction community inside and outside academia.

Assay aims to fill a gap. So what are some of the reasons for that gap? Why has there been such a reluctance, or unwillingness, to study creative nonfiction in a traditionally academic and scholarly way?  

CNF has been studied in a scholarly way in composition and rhetoric for decades, even studied to a degree in literature, but rarely. The creative writing community hasn’t studied it in this way for a few reasons I’ve determined: The first is that the M.F.A is an art degree, not a scholarly degree. While we study the work we’re reading for what it can teach us about writing, the purpose of creative writing is to create new work, not to spend our time writing on other writers’ works. My own M.F.A, though, required literature courses in one’s own genre, taught by the creative writers, in addition to workshops, that really shaped how I think about nonfiction as a whole. To write it, without studying it, seems like missing the full experience.

This lack of publication space was the main impetus for Assay’s existence. We saw the work being written without any place to publish it. We saw this work being taught without any place to discuss the pedagogy of it. We wanted to move beyond lore to create a theoretical space, simply another way to discuss the creative nonfiction we read and write.

Who are some nonfiction writers you’re currently reading?

I’m reading some eclectic stuff right now: Brian Fagan’s “Elixir,” about water and civilization (Water is a huge element in my work, and I loved his book “The Little Ice Age.”) I’m rereading Paul Gruchow’s “Boundary Waters,” as I do every summer. I’m rereading Brian Doyle because he passed away recently, and he’s on my mind. I’m in “The Wet Engine”  right now—partly because I want to read him, partly because I want to see what he’s done with a short book comprised of short essays. I’ve been kicking around this idea of analyzing his use of verbs because I’ve noticed over the course of his work, he uses them in a very specific way, and interesting way, to my mind. Assaying Doyle in this way, getting down to the elements of his work, I hope will illuminate for me one of the ways that makes his work so affecting. But like any essay, I don’t know the answer to the questions in my head, and so I don’t know where that piece will end up.

 

The easiest way to get involved in the Assay writing community is to submit something either to “My Favorite Essay to Teach” or to “Writers to Read” in the journal’s In the Classroom section. Further information about writing and editing opportunities can be found here.  

–Stephen Jenemann, M.A. ’18