Sunday, January 17, 2010

Under the Wire, Over in Words

Just days before I realized I was going to be having two surgeries and would be out on medical leave for a month, I accepted an assignment from our magazine's Editor in Chief to write a feature piece on Social Media that was due January 18th. It had to include interviews from leaders in our industry and be about 2100 words.

Well, I ended up conducting the interviews via email between my two surgeries and, after putting off actually keying in the first word until January 14th, I actually hit "send" on the article yesterday afternoon (2 days early).... but it ended up being about 2250 in words.

I've published 8 print articles and countless web articles with my company (NRPA) in the five years I've been with them and there's one thing I've learned - WORD COUNT IS INFLEXIBLE IN PRINT.

I feel like I gave birth to that article at this point and couldn't cut a word, but I know 150 words will hit the editing room floor between now and the February issue of P & R Magazine and it will probably be my favorite part - the "warm, personal part."

Here's the section I expect 21,000 print subscribers won't get to see:

Change at the Speed of Light

Futurist and innovation expert Jim Carroll made the comment at NRPA’s 2009 Congress that, in the technology arena, over half of what today’s college freshman learn will be obsolete by the time they graduate. That made me think of my own technology transformation (albeit over a 20 year period) from my college days in the ‘80s when “social media” amounted to saving a favorite joke on a 5 ¼ inch floppy disk and giving
it to a friend so the next time he or she went to the computer lab (no one had their own PCs) they could pop it in and laugh at it… to the Blogging, Tweeting, web-surfing techno-geek I’m proud to be today.

Fun Fact - Although mainframe-based inter-office email was used as early as 1965, the World Wide Web was publicly launched in April of 1993 facilitating email as a global
communication tool.

Today’s Social Media is certainly more than just having the technology to email that favorite joke and have your friend instantly receive it and even send back a quick “LOL” all in a matter of seconds, but a buffet of digital opportunities to connect with people around the world in real time. “Social Media” itself has changed so rapidly since the phrase was coined in 2004 that the original Wikipedia definition posted in July of 2006 has had over 500 revisions to date.
I know what you're thinking ... THAT was warm and personal? (yeah, I know, eye of the beholder) Or were you thinking "5 ¼ inch floppy? What's that?"

I wanted to post the article to my blog "as is" but I don't have personal permission to reprint the interviews and quotes... so I stripped them out and posted it to our consulting blog... of course now, without the interviews and quotes, it's only 1500 words. But THAT won't be what gets cut, will it?


tracey said...

you are quite the wordsmith my friend. i dare say, keeping current with technology is the greatest challenge on a personal & professional level for me.

ML Yost said...

Well, I won't count my chickens (or words) before they hatch (on to the page), but the editor sent me a note that they expected to be able to work with my full word count. Yippy! :-)