BIBLIOGRINDAdventures in Writing, Reading & Book Culture
One of my more fun jobs was features writer for The Suncoast News, a small biweekly paper in New Port Richey, about 30 miles north of Tampa, FL. I was rarely in the office, took my own photographs, and nearly always came up with the winning title. What more can a writer ask for?
The hard part of writing features in a small community (5 surrounding villages in our distribution area) was hunting for two stories each week. The easy part was getting people to talk about themselves, their work, the world, or their “what I did in the War” story. I always had at least 10 set questions, based on my research of the person and the subject, be it related to Peace Corps work, life as a mounted police officer, and woodworkers building toys for underprivileged kids, to name a few. I rarely needed to ask Question #3, because #1 and #2 got them rolling and I sat back for the ride, only interrupting to ask questions-on-the-fly.
I’m not sure how I was able to so easily get people to talk to me, but many did say following their interviews that I portrayed one of those easy-going natures “for a reporter”; I quickly responded, from the first time I heard that comment, “I’m not a reporter. I’m a story teller.” From a kid’s adventure in Space Camp and teachers writing character-building workbooks, to hip-hop duos and an amateur archeaologist with one unusual (and singular) theory, I met good people getting along with life and happy enough to have achieved something worthy of highlight in their community newspaper. Features writing definitively inspired in me the notion that, yes, as individuals, people are good. Which begs the question: just what the hell happens to them in large groups?
The pics & sub-parts below link to readable copies of the original newsprint feature, usually no more than @900 words. Likewise, you can right-click and download the linked image to enlarge it in a preview program. Enjoy.