The Other End of the Telescope

When I was interviewing for the Popverse editor gig, a couple people politely inquired whether or not I’d miss writing, because I wouldn’t be doing it so much; I glibly answered no, and that I’d probably still be writing as much as ever, but in different directions and for different purposes, but the reality is that’s not turned out to be the case; it really has been more administrative and strategic than I’d initially assumed, and I’ve found the make-up of my work day shifting as a result… and I’ve been thinking more about writing.

In one way or another, I’ve been an entertainment journalist for two decades. I’ve worked at a worrying amount of outlets, covering a worrying amount of topics — oh, who can remember my time as a “tech writer,” because that was what paid the bills? — and in a worrying amount of styles. I’ve prided myself on my ability to adapt to the needs of others’ guides: if I needed to write longer or shorter, to focus on one particular audience or another, to speak in whatever voice was required of me. The problem with that is, of course, that your own voice becomes lost a little as a result… to the point where, if you’re not paying enough attention, you start to lose track of it entirely.

(I do wonder how much of that bleeds over here, where I am always trying to write relatively un-self-consciously; have there been noticeable shifts as I jump from gig to gig, from role to role, and I’ve just not seen them, because I’m at the center of it all…? If I think about that too much, I get embarrassed and second-guess myself, so best not.)

All of this is in my head as I try to construct a working theory of what I want as an editor, in terms of the voice, the approach, the everything for writers working for the site moving forward. I find myself lapsing into vagueness unintentionally: speaking in feelings and metaphors instead of practical, concrete steps and tips. Approaching these topics from the other side, I realize how much it’s like creating an entire language, a code that you want others to understand and be fluent in, even as you rip it up and re-arrange it for yourself in real time around them.

It’s far easier to adapt to someone else’s editorial edicts than make your own, for me — I feel my therapist would look at that and go, hmm, interesting. Say more — and, as I find my way forward and find my footing in the process, there’s something valuable and new and exciting in the process. Something exhausting, too, but that’s literally the job.

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