It is the week leading into a holiday and I'm waiting for a few people to get back to me so I can smash some deadlines by Friday, so I'm going to break down how two of my most recent stories happened.
I'm sure other freelancers may care – and some PR people too. Or maybe you just like reading my stuff so much that you want to a peek into how my brain works. So here we go:
Story 1: "The Camaraderie of the Long Distance Relay Runner" for The New York Times
I've been writing the New York Times' running newsletter for a year now; and before that, I wrote The Philadelphia Inquirer running column for three years. Yes, I do sometimes run out of ideas, and in those times, I ask for help from a small group of people whose opinions I trust: a few running store owners, race directors, and running-related company owners. I ask what I'm missing. One such person said he'd just run a relay, and they seem to be more popular. Right around that time, I got an email from a friend of Marc B. Spiegal, the co-author of Hood to Coast Memories, in response to a newsletter that I wrote about running books, and he told me about this one. And (again) right around that time, I saw a LinkedIn post about RaceJoy adding more relay-friendly features and voila: I had a story idea. This all happened about three weeks before the Hood to Coast relay, which gave it a time peg. Even better!
Of course, I had to pitch this to my editor and convince him it was worth a story. His response was "I didn't know that" – possibly the best thing you can get an editor to say (along with "write it" of course), especially because I assume he gets even more pitches than I do. So there you are.
Story 2: "National Parks are in a Financial Crisis. Here, Buy a Sweatshirt," for The Outline
This one started as a curiosity: I've visited a lot of National Parks in the last year and a half (and am headed out again to see two more soon). I posted about them on social media, and I kept getting ads for Parks Project, which sells National Park stuff. I got one of their sweatshirts for Christmas (because I asked it). But what exactly was it? And how did that relate to REI and Brooks making National Park trail running shoes, and all the stuff I saw for sale in National Park visitor centers? Would it be better for the NPS if I bought stuff only at those visitor centers? At first, I thought these products might be almost bootleg gear – that the names of National Parks weren't copyrighted, so anyone could make stuff with those names on it. I asked two people who have connections to the NPS about it, and neither one of them knew. An editor at The Outline and I had been talking for months about what I could write for them, so I felt comfortable enough to pitch him this idea as "I have no idea how it works, how about you pay me to find out?" (though I said it more eloquently than that).
I would never do that with an editor I was cold pitching, but I felt confident enough in the back and forth we already had that he would be OK with me being honest – and he was OK with it. If you're really curious, I was assigned the NPS story and this one around the same time, but that one ran first because it was timely, and the NPS one took more time to research and write. And, again, here we are.
Interesting? Not? Either way, I've got more good content of you below, so read on!
"The Camaraderie of the Long-Distance Relay Runner" for The New York Times
"National Parks are in a Financial Crisis. Here, Buy a Sweatshirt," for The Outline
"Why 70% of facilities may deploy wearables in 5 years" for Supply Chain Dive
"Managers scrutinize queue time as supply chains demand speed" for Supply Chain Dive
What I'm Reading
- Northland: A 4,000-Mile Journey Along America's Forgotten Border by Porter Fox. This was lovely! I learned a lot, and it's leading me to check out a place on my upcoming trip to Maine that I wouldn't have known about otherwise.
- Solitaire by Jane Thynne. The latest in the Clara Vine series (if you're new here: she's a half British, half German actress in Berlin before and during WW II who is also spying for British Intelligence). This is only available in the UK right now. I plead the fifth about how I got a copy. There's four more available in the U.S. so get on it!
- The Brass Verdict by Michael Connelly. This is the second in his Lincoln Lawyer series, and its so good. Perfect for a late summer weekend.
- The Inquisitor's Tale by Adam Gidwitz. I'm listening to the audiobook version of this and…it's strange. I also may be missing something since I don't have the illustrations.
- Light of the Stars: Alien Worlds and the Fate of The Earth by Adam Frank. Both engaging and frightening, as all things related to climate change are. I'm a third of the way through and completely hooked.
- Kung Fu Panda. I haven't watched this in years, and it's as delightful as I remembered!
- The BFG. I listened to the audiobook of this last year, so I wanted to see how it translated to film. It is a creepy story and I think I enjoyed the audiobook telling better.
- Doctor Strange. This is a movie I don't really enjoy but end up watching as background to working a lot just because…it's fine. I think it was best seen in 3D and – controversial opinion – Cumberbatch is miscast. DON'T AT ME.
- Trail & Error. I burned through the second season this weekend while recovering from running more miles than I care to admit. It's so weird and goofy and I love it. I encourage you to see it out – and start with the first season.
- Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2. This has been a Netflix recommendation for some time, and I did see it in the theaters. I dunno. I think I liked the first one better.