My day job for the last 20 years has been as a freelance writer and teacher. This past week a local reporter with whom I used to work, interviewed me about an article on memoir writing. After the formalities were out of the way we had some time to play catch up and one of the first questions out of the reporter’s mouth was to ask me if I still worked for the same publication where we had met.
“No,” I replied.
“Thank God,” she said. “I can still picture you at the table with your face in your hands saying with a sigh, ‘I’ll take that, I’ll take that’ to all the stories none of us wanted.”
I had to laugh because she’s right, I did. In order to make a living and build my credentials I willingly took every story that came my way, which sometimes meant writing about toilets and sometimes about real estate. It used to be when you googled my name the first thing that would come up was “Take the Plunge,” indeed, a story about toilets.
To be honest, in order to make a living some of this willingness to write anything comes in handy, but I am learning you can also write about what you love. I work for some wonderful publications today, Upper Valley Life and Rutland Magazine, to name a couple, where I get to do some interesting work. I also am finding new avenues to write about topics that spark my interest such as this blog.
This past fall I interviewed Craig Mosher of Craig Mosher Excavating for Rutland Magazine. Hurricane Irene had destroyed Mosher’s property, where he also kept two popular tourist attractions –a pair of Scottish Highland cattle. I covered his renovation efforts. That article recently appeared in Rutland Magazine and I wanted to share it with you, here. The cover photo of Craig with his donkey Pedro and the end photo of Craig with Rob are both mine. The animals play a prominent role in the story, but because the article was primarily about the restoration of the land, one thing that I did not get to emphasize was Craig’s warm relationship with these creatures. I think the pictures capture that a bit. When he walked me out to introduce me to Big and Rob I almost felt like I was watching a boy romp with his fluffy puppy. Both the animals and the man seemed to bask in the affection of the other. It was fun to watch.
I have to admit that my approach of taking just about any story assignment that comes my way sometimes yields a dud, but more often than not even the worst sounding subject usually reveals hidden facets. Whether it’s learning about a new topic or gathering insight into human nature, each assignment seems to offer an eventual silver lining. Figuring out how to construct an article based on a reluctant interviewee or on foreign subject is similar to approaching a puzzle and discovering where each piece should go. Sometimes it is challenging, sometimes even frustrating, but there is always a feeling of satisfaction when you view the end result.
And, just like solving a puzzle keeps your senses sharp, tackling a range of subjects enhances your skills. So, I have no regrets when assignments are being doled out to be that writer with her hand held out. Each assignment is like being given tickets to a new adventure – some are more fun than others, but if you’re willing to press on and explore the hidden side streets and unexpected byways, you’ll usually find something worth writing about.