Writing for the Paper

This morning I had a piece on the Religion and Values page of the City By the Sea Press Herald. Because it refers to a current and touchy issue in our community, the editorial department of the paper asked for more drafts than I usually write for them. The fourth finally met their need to have the piece be sufficiently religious and not wobbling over to the op-ed category instead. I wanted to argue, and in fact did, that the page is also about Values, but the editor (one step up from anyone with whom I usually work) made it clear that if I did not make the essay more, as my children would say, "Jesus-y," they simply would not run it.

It occurs to me that I am a bit spoiled by having freedom of the pulpit. I resisted and still do, but it felt more important to weigh in while the question is still in the front of people’s minds than to have my way.

The result? I have no idea whether it’s a good piece of writing. Oh, I know it says what I wanted to say about the issue. But in abandoning my style, I lost a sense of the quality of my writing.

My style for most of my newspaper columns has been to tell a real-life story and slip my friend Jesus, or more usually, God, in toward the end.

The editor said, "It’s too subtle."

Now, I would take that as a compliment, but in this case it would have meant having no voice on this matter.

So, I worked the material over for a fourth time yesterday afternoon.

Since the issue is controversial, I expected to get email about the column. But guess what happened in the editorial process? They listed only part of the address. Wish they could go back for another draft.

14 thoughts on “Writing for the Paper”

  1. It’s still wonderful – be proud.
    I wish you and st. cass and all my sisters in faith could be with us tomorrow for the baptism! I cherish your prayers – I think this may be more emotional then I’m prepared for.
    Good Saturday and Sunday to you.

  2. you’re the greatest. it’s still wonderful. though i understand your hesitation. they squashed the prophet in making you write so many drafts. i don’t think that’s what that coal was about on isaiah’s tongue. and god said, rewrite? i don’ think so. rest assured that nothing is as bad as the ad for allen ave. eeek. i’ll be curious if you get comments.

  3. I managed to create the email address they used, just in case, but no responses thus far (and I may have been too late in the day as most of those come early). Doing so was complicated by having no memory of what my master username is with our internet provider, since it was set up before Pure Luck and I got married. I had to find the ID on our cable modem to get into our account at all.
    I did hear from two pastors I know, who had my correct address, but no other reactions thus far.

  4. I think it’s a great article. One of the things I especially appreciate is the absence of a gender-specific pronoun in your concluding paragraph: “L and the person she loves…”
    I was surprised that the birth control being distributed is the pill, though, because it doesn’t stop STDs.
    Thanks for the work you do, within and beyond the walls of the church.

  5. Well, the PPH strikes again — I am a “registered” commenter but was not able to reach a place where I could post a comment — just kept getting the page that wants me to do a lot of other stuff. No other comments either so maybe it’s not just me. Anyway, I thought it was a fine piece and made a lot of sense. Scott Simon on NPR this morning talked about the issue (a national person not local) and just didn’t seem to get it the way you did. He had some good points but no better idea than what’s being done.

  6. I thought it was wonderfully written and gave a thoughtful side of the conversation for people to consider without being “in your face.” Sometimes, subtle can be more effective. I think it gives an alternative way to view these at-risk students and softens the knee-jerk response most people initially tend to have about this issue. Well done, Songbird, well done indeed!

  7. I think it’s beautiful.
    And when you describe your daughter, in the 7th grade and can say, “She is happy to be the age she is, in no rush to move ahead,” I have to say that I in awe of not just your writing but your parenting.

  8. Lovely — and courageous. If only more clergy felt free to speak out in this way, reminding us that we’re supposed to care for each other, not judge and condemn.

Leave a Reply