Thursday, August 13, 2009

"Inspired" Update : BU English Alum Claire Ploegman

Claire Ploegman won the Virginia M. Chaney Award as the outstanding English major in 2008. She was recently named Managing Editor of Southern Inspired Magazine.

Tell us a little about the magazine.

Southern Inspired Magazine: The magazine has been repeatedly described as a cross between Southern Living and Real Simple with a local twist. Besides the fact that the word "twist" irks me, I am happy being a part of this Southern Living/ Real Simple hybrid even when the articles are not my dream topics, because the vision is to build community, especially in the face of economic re-evaluation. The magazine is to cater to a span of incomes, glorifying thrift shops and the satisfaction that comes with DIY projects since hiring out has become expensive even for those who are still comfortable. Reinvention, recycling, making do, paying attention --- these are all quietly present in the magazine (I try to find any resonance I can will Bill McKibben's Deep Economy). So Read LOCAL. Those are the words I prefer to describe it. The magazine is also supposed to appeal to women, ages 25-75, and building an intergenerational community is important to me. I don't mind starting with their hobbies (even if gender expectations are used to determine said hobbies - I still stand by SAGE).

What do you do as the managing editor?

Managing Editor has been an interesting title for what I have been doing so far. Let me emphasize that this is a start up magazine.... which means any one job title is problematic. Honestly I have been flying in so many different directions -- ad sales, social representing/ hobnobbing, setting up interviews, photoshoots, finding distribution sites and delivering boxes of magazines, covering local events, interviewing freelancers of all kinds, and going absolutely broke. (But everyone is broke right now. It's a good time to be broke.) For this first issue, the title of managing editor came late in the game. It came because I am the senior member, nascent as the magazine is. It came as a pay voucher. It came out of proven ability, too, though there really was no hierarchy of copy-editors this time. I suppose I did manage the other editors and try to install method to the madness of figuring out drafting schedules and editing cycles.

What do you like most about your job?

I am never doing the same thing two days in a row. (Although sometimes I wish I had more writerly haven days...) Also, it's a small shop, and I have a surprising amount of say in article topics and presentation, so I can make sure I evolve an assignment to a place where I will enjoy writing it.

Were there experiences during your time at Belmont that helped you prepare for what you're doing now, or is this pretty much a whole new world?

Well, I hate Associated Press style. Being an MLA literature major prepped me for that feeling. A lot of experiences at Belmont have been invaluable. I was a design communications minor, so that trained my eye and opinions when I function as a layout/ design editor. But that minor came directly out of Book Editing with Dr. Alexander. Book Editing helped me realize I could swirl all my interests into one career, and helped me realize I need the swirl -- I don't think I could take a job that was all copy editing.

I almost wish I'd done some pre-press, dead end ad sales while I was still in college, though. I used to get really wigged out about class presentations, and I think those initial ad sales helped me get over it --- especially because when it comes to literature presentations, I at least had something I wanted to say (not, "Can I have your money? NO? Really? Okay.").

Also, creative writing workshops really helped me learn how to work in groups of very different writers. Editing can turn so invasive, insultingly invasive. You can tell when people have not refined editing rapport, let alone realized they need to consider its existence. Write your own article; edit the others.

Anything else you'd like faculty, alums, or current students to know about you and what you're doing?

I have plans to move into an efficiency apartment in September.