Aug 25, 2014

My Mint Lounge articles and the benefits of an editor

In the past, I've occasionally contributed travel-related articles to some in-flight magazines and wrote some short stories for some publications and contests. This year, thanks to a personal resolution to begin writing with more purpose once again and thanks to the fact that I know the Travel editor for Mint Lounge (Shamanth Rao), I pitched and published two articles for Mint Lounge.

The articles are:

1. about the 'Waadaas' (traditional residences) of Pune

2. about the Computer History Museum in California

Unlike in my earlier submissions, this went through a slightly more intense editing process. Mint Lounge has a very clearly stated set of guidelines on what the article's typical 'voice' should be like: it should read like a personal narrative, not like a travel guide's summary or neither an extremely autobiographical piece. The first version of my first article fell through so many of these guidelines that I think we had to send out a rescue mission and some oxygen. Based on the editor's pointed inputs, I reworked the entire structure almost inside-out. What you see in the article above is largely that structure (and if it works, I can't take much of the credit for it).

The second time, I had a fair idea of what worked, so the process was easier and shorter. This time, most of the follow-up work was spent on fleshing out details: 'it's still not vivid enough', 'describe that object in greater detail', 'who was around and what were they doing' and so on.

Having someone skilled looking at your work really helps: it's a mix of an outside-in view, detachment, the ability to see what works and what doesn't, what can be emphasized and what can be thrown out without remorse, and most importantly, in my case - someone that I, by pitching and researching and writing, had made a personal committment to in terms of seeing this through to the end.

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