Magazine time isn’t like normal time. I’m not talking about the deadlines, which come with many jobs besides this one. What’s unique about magazines is how they force you think ahead. And I mean, way ahead. We already have a full editorial calendar for Arizona Wildlife Views 2012.
In the normal course of events, some stories will drop off the calendar and a few others will be added. But the point is, here in September 2011 we have a fairly solid idea of the topics our readers will be looking at in September 2012.
I want to write for the magazine in 2012, of course. This meant I had to come up with story ideas for 2012 before meeting with the magazine editor to set the calendar in July 2011. So while the magazine is planned as much as a year in advance, I start thinking about my writing projects as much as a year and a half ahead of their publication.
It goes a step further: If I want to do a story that is timely for a fall issue, and it requires traveling to an area so I can experience that place in autumn, I have to go there in autumn 2010, pitch the story in summer 2011, and write the story in the summer of 2012 for fall publication. I don’t know what I’m having for dinner tonight, but I do know what I’ll be writing about a year from now.
As one of my favorite television characters, Monk, would say, “It’s a blessing … and a curse.” This lengthy planning cycle is a challenge, but it keeps me thinking ahead. I’m always developing story ideas, and if they involve travel, I’m planning my schedule at least one year out, and sometimes up to two.
This is fine with me; as I mentioned in an earlier post, one of my stories published this year took five years between the first seeds of an idea and the date of publication. It’s a good thing that by temperatment, I’m kind of a marathon runner. A person who writes for a bimonthly magazine can’t be a sprinter—impatience is not a trait this job rewards.
So, want to know what you will be reading in September 2012? Ask an editor!