Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Dear New York Fashion Show,

I have a suggestion: Why not use girls from Third World countries for your runway shows? You wouldn't have to feed them any more than you do the current models, and you'd be giving them a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You'd be helping impoverished girls, highlighting the troubles of their native countries, and holding an exciting, new kind of fashion show at the same time!

But maybe I just don't understand you and the position of utmost importance you hold in society, and your impressive dedication to fashion, culture and the body as art, and your benevolence to the fashion-ignorant among us, who can't grasp the subtle differences between a delicate, ethereal runway model and a gaunt, starving inhabitant of one of those poor countries over there.

Photo by Getty Images, in case someone gets mad at me for using it

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A lesson relearned

I learned today why reporters shouldn’t send articles to the subjects of those articles for review.

Of course, I knew that already. I learned it years ago during that naïve, post-high-school summer when I wrote articles for a newspaper for the first time.

No matter how much they beg, if your first instinct says “No,” don’t send it to them. They will want to rewrite your article and change everything they said.

My editor wanted me to send a particular article to a particular subject, so despite my misgivings, I did it.

Big mistake. She’s that Type-A, do-it-herself, in-control type of person. Those are the dangerous ones, because they want to reword the entire piece in their favor.

I am a writer, not an advertiser. My job is to write a coherent, consistent story, a whole that is made up of its parts. I leave out what doesn’t fit, I include what is necessary for my angle, and I do it within the word count I have been given. That is my job. (And incidentally, the article is a profile! It is a favorable article! But she wanted more.)

Fortunately, my editor understands; she’s good like that. She’s a writer, too.

But unfortunately, now I have to deal with the consequences. Do I write her back and tell her “I’ll see what I can do?” Do I just ignore it and wait for the fallout when the article comes out and she sees that her changes have not been made? Do I tell her that her suggested changes don’t really fit the tone of our magazine?

The best thing may be to defer to the editor, because a good editor has your back. I can tell the lady to take it up with the editor, and then it’s out of my hands. Sweet relief.

It almost makes me rethink my dreams of becoming a book editor.