The Thrill Isn’t Gone


After all these years, I guess I should not be as excited as I am to see my byline on an article. After all, I started this writing gig during the Reagan Administration, which tells you how far back I go. Back then, I crafted articles on typewriters (yup!), computers were still in their infancy and remote work? Hah! That was a pipe dream.

Given that history, I probably should be immune to the excitement of seeing my name included in a magazine piece. I couldn’t even hazard a guess at how many articles I’ve bylined, but it’s safe to say it’s in the thousands. And that doesn’t count the newspaper sections I produced and received no public credit. That number is also in the thousands.

I reflect on that now because, while the world has gone to hell in a handbasket in so many areas, this has been a particularly good year for bylines. I’ve written about a Colorado project that will ensure the community meets its water needs, bird-friendly glass (who knew?), and vertical farming. Those topics just scratch the surface of some of the interesting projects and topics that I have been fortunate to write about in 2020.

With each article published, I feel like I just picked up a treat at the candy store. It is becoming harder each day to land articles in publications. There are more public relations pros out there than traditional journalists these days. Editors are overwhelmed with pitches. Magazine sizes are shrinking, and many have even fell by the wayside. Nothing convinces me that trend will abate any time soon. These days, reaching an agreement with an editor about an article is no easy task, and each completed article is worthy of celebration.

The other reason to celebrate the placement of an article is because, quite frankly, the work is hard. Sometimes really hard. Readers, editors, and clients see the finished product. What they don’t see is the hours spent contacting, researching, writing, editing, re-writing and just plain thinking. Contemplating the message that I want to convey, organizing the article and finding the right words to tell the story does not just happen. A significant amount of thought goes into every story, every sentence.

The talent of a true professional, I suppose, is to make it look easy. Derek Jeter made hitting a baseball look easy during his time with the Yankees. It’s not. The same is true of writing. It’s much harder than people realize, especially if you do it well.

Last week, a roofing magazine was delivered to the office and it included one of my articles. I knew the article was published because I had seen it online. As soon as I saw the magazine, I flipped to the article, saw the byline, and felt the pride. It was a temporary lift to my day, and certainly not as exciting as my first-ever byline, but a lift just the same. May that always be so.

Tom Renner