Thursday, June 30, 2011

Freelance writing and editing group

Editorial group: If you're a writer, editor or general freelancer, you might check out my Freelance Writers and Editors group on Yahoo.

Blogs: If you have an editing or writing blog (or if you have a particular entry you're proud of), let me hear about it. It doesn't even have to be a writing or editing blog. I just like good writing. Thanks.


Contact: I can be reached at tgilli52@gmail.com or nc3022@yahoo.com. Also, my Twitter handle is EDITORatWORK.

(a book of great stories about the Intimidator)
(the book of great NASCAR stories)

More blog entries by Tom Gillispie

Anecdotes by Tom Gillispie

Monday, June 27, 2011

Shifting gears

In 1990, I was the auto-racing writer in Charleston, S.C., and life was good. I was in Daytona Beach for the summer race; I'd written my lead story on Bill Elliott and my notebook lead on Darrell Waltrip starting his 400th career race, and I thought I'd head outside to get a few extra quotes. I was also freelancing for Winston Cup Scene (later NASCAR Scene), and you never knew what you'd find.

I walked outside and saw a plumb of smoke in turn four, white against a lovely blue sky. I hurried to pit road to see what was the matter — there was a clatter of activity — and there was the No. 17 car (DW's) sitting there with a mashed hood and smoke billowing upward.

Oh, oh! I could see my lead and notebook going up in smoke.

I hurried down there, found that Darrell and whoever he wrecked with (Dave Marcis, I think) were fine and got a few quotes.

I rushed back to the press center and made the Bill Elliott story my feature for Sunday. Naturally, I made the Darrell Waltrip piece my lead story for the next day, and I reworked my notebook so I had a lede (newspaper parlance for the lead of a story) note to replace DW.

As I recall, there was more to it than a wreck. I don't think they used radios in practice back then, and this wreck may have produced a rule that forced Cup teams to use radios during practice. Perhaps that came out while we were writing; maybe it came later. I don't remember.

I didn't rush, but within an hour and a half after I saw the smoke, the stories were done. I'd used my copy-editing skills to craft what I'd already written into something almost totally different.

The guys at the News and Courier (it would become the Post and Courier a couple of years later) probably had no idea what I went through, and they wouldn't have cared.

It was the first time I'd had to deal with something like that, and I found it exhilarating. I was dealing with "breaking news" of the sports kind, and I didn't mind the extra work at all.

It was a good weekend all around. Elliott and Waltrip both raced on Saturday, I filed my stories for Sunday, then stopped somewhere in northern Florida and watched "The Jetsons" movie. Then I ate somewhere and headed home.

I expected the extra work to be a pain in the butt. Instead, it was fun.


Contact: I can be reached at tgilli52@gmail.com or nc3022@yahoo.com. Also, my Twitter handle is EDITORatWORK.

(a book of great stories about the Intimidator)
(the book of great NASCAR stories)

More blog entries by Tom Gillispie

Anecdotes by Tom Gillispie