Getting there.

Posted: December 1, 2010 in Meta, The job

It’s been a month. A not-bad month.

I’ve written some little things here and there — for money, even — and Eatsburgh is doing better than I could have hoped. I’m lucky, too, to also have the promise of more work ahead.

Today — this morning — felt the best so far. This piece on ghost bikes ran, sort of the first story I’ve done here that felt right or natural, one of the kinds of stories I really like to do.

Made the front page of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s website:

That's the headline, there at the bottom right

In print, it was on the front of their features section:

The "Star Wars" view.

Being from Portland, the idea of ghost bikes is nothing new. Here in Pittsburgh, they existed once, vanished, and have recently begun showing up again. An interesting thing.

Every story I came across in my research published in traditional media was set up to be emotional. Started with a family member or two of a dead rider. Talked a lot about how they felt.

Or it began with a melodramatic description of the bikes. It’s a bike. Stripped down and painted white. Let’s not be so into ourselves as writers we make them into something they’re not.

But those family members are not the ones who make and place the bikes. That’s what I was interested in. Why make one? What is it supposed to say? Who are the people who make them? What do they get out of doing it?

I tried to build the story from the street up with the people who do it. That’s where a story like this has value. Of course a family misses someone it loved. But why would someone outside the family make and install a memorial, then promise to maintain it?

Answer that, and there’s a story there.

  1. Matt Davis says:

    We’ve got this saying now at work, “show me the starving kitten.” Because we’ll find stories that have value in document searches, then it’s a question of finding the hook that’ll draw the reader in. I like reading about your story thought process Jake, because It makes me think, maybe I should think a bit harder about what I’m writing instead of just churning it out,

  2. Congratulations on your story making it to print+first page! You are welcome to be a guest contributor on Boring Pittsburgh any time 😉

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