Author bios on glossy book jackets give the illusion that a writer climbed to the top of the literary profession in heroic, purpose-filled strides. One New Yorker staff writer turned that creation myth upside down in an interview.
Today’s guest on the Morning Media Menu was David Grann, a staff writer at The New Yorker magazine and the author of and The Lost City of Z. Grann discussed his newest book, The Devil and Sherlock Holmes, and shared tips for aspiring long-form journalists–explaining how he ended up at one of America’s greatest magazines after years of work.
Press play on the embedded player below to listen.
Here’s an excerpt: “It was a very circuitous path. It was not very linear–I floundered about for many years. I had many different careers early on. I knew I wanted to be a writer. But, like so many people, I didn’t know how to be one–other than just do it. I didn’t know what form it would take.”
He continued: “Early on I tried fiction, but I wasn’t very good at it. I wrote a very bad novel that is thankfully sitting in a drawer somewhere. I was a schoolteacher, I taught seventh and eighth grade and I tried to write fiction on the side. I tried a few grad school programs because I didn’t know how to make it … Eventually, I was desperate for a job and there was a new newspaper opening up in Washington D.C. called The Hill. Even though my interest in politics wasn’t huge, they gave me a job as a copy editor.”
Follow this link to hear how this transition helped Grann find his life’s work as a long form journalist.