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Stephen R. Clark

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Oreland, Pennsylvania
Joined June 1996


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m a writer and a journalist, and occasionally a poet. My first "real" job was with a trade magazine. The publisher was a scruffy old guy who had moved from newspaper journalism to magazine publisher over a career that spanned decades. He knew a lot about the craft and a lot of people in the business. He was a likeable guy, but definitely no nonsense. His name was (and still is) Bob. Walker, not Knight. More about Bob in a minute.

I came to my love of writing though the door marked "literature" and by the path of "creativity." In this particular milieu journalism was almost a curse word.

Journalism was for hacks. Literature was for the better of us. Now the really stupid thing about this is that my aspirations were firmly aimed at a job in publishing!

On the book side of things, you could call it a literary pursuit. But magazines, which is where I was looking to go, was all about journalism. That was a revelation that I came to rather late, with the help of Bob.

Being a creative writer type, naturally, writing was a time consuming labor of love. It could take hours to write a single paragraph, and days to polish off an entire article.

Even though a monthly magazine's deadlines are far from as aggressive as a daily newspaper, they still come pretty fast. Time is not something you have a lot of for producing what I soon learned to call "copy." Although, I'm not fond of that term.

Bob would give me an assignment first thing in the morning that would involve research (the pre-Internet, go to the library, kind of research) and interviewing (by phone or in person), and expect a polished 3,000 - 5,000 word article by the end of the day.

My creative literary sensibilities screamed in protest, knowing that it was impossible to create a finely crafted piece of literature in such a short time. Which is somewhat true but not entirely accurate.

As Bob was able to bore into my brain, good writing doesn't always have to be fine literature. And creativity has many faces, one of which is good journalism, which, when done well, is quite literate. In short order I soon learned how to accomplish exactly what he required, producing decent material quickly.

It is possible and it can actually be fun, even though it's always hard work. I also learned that good journalism is also sometimes produced after hours and days and weeks of research and writing, requiring tremendous creativity, and resulting in both excellent journalism and fine literature.

A couple of excellent journalistic writers are Anna Quindlen and Tom Wolfe. Tracy Kidder is one as well with his excellent book-length dives into single topics, such as The Soul of a New Machine and House.

Journalistic writers come in every hue and tone, covering an even broader array of content. Most can write about nearly anything. I've not met a subject yet that I couldn't write about once it was researched. The quality of the research is key.

Herein are a few examples of journalism. You'll also find "non-journalistic" writing in the form of short fiction and a few poems. Some items have been published elsewhere on paper. Some haven't.


By the way, Bob passed away a few years ago at 95. You can read more about him here: http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2008/marchweb-only/112-13.0.html



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