Bob rejoins the ranks of reporters, halts new postings and reveals why
I’m going to stop adding new postings to the site, while keeping the site active to allow you to continue browsing the archives.
I have been posting on the site weekly since May, 2001. Originally this was a short-term marketing effort aimed at drawing attention to my republished book, which came out in June of that year. (I know, you don’t make enough to spend $32 on a book. I don’t blame you. The publisher specializes in college textbooks, meaning it has a captive audience). But I received enough positive comment to keep loading up something new each week. I realized I had gotten hooked far beyond my original intent when I packed my laptop on a trip to Hawaii in July, 2001, determined to keep posting every week.
But nobody is worth listening to all the time, and as I mentioned at the end of last week’s posting, I feel like I’ve run out of new ideas. I’m also coming to the end of a nine-year stint as an editor and/or writing coach, a position which gives you time and opportunity to comb the woods for good and bad examples of writing, and helps shape your philosophy. Beginning in September, I’m returning to reporting. (I wanted something new, so I’ll be an entertainment writer at the L.A. Times, attempting to focus as much as I can on stories about how entertainment and society influence each other.)
Line editing is not fit work for a long-term career. It should be done in short spurts, like military service or social work. The first time I did it, I lasted 2 1/2 years and I went back to reporting. The second time I did it, I lasted 3 1/2 years and went back to reporting. This time, through a variety of circumstances, it lasted twice as long as I had planned, and I wasn’t strong enough to assert myself until this year. I looked at the clock and realized that if I didn’t jump off the diving board soon, I’d never be a reporter again, and I wasn’t prepared to leave the business without one more crack at it. All the love and respect I have for reporters comes from my own experiences of overcoming the pain and fear that are etched into the process. Much of that struggle had become abstract to me, and it made line editing feel stale.
One of the things I plan on enjoying about returning to reporting is being responsible for my own improvement. In that mindset, the role of a commentator on other people’s work is impossible (without being a hypocrite or an asshole, or both).
So, enjoy the archives. As long as my software registers signficant use, I’ll keep the site running. Thanks for your engagement and your commitment to the simple art of continued improvement. I’ve had the blessing of editing some terrific reporters during the last nine years, and their dedication reinforced my belief in a slogan that appears on this site’s logo: There are only two kind of reporters: bad ones, and those who are improving.