Judy B. Margolis [judybmargolis]
What did you first read? How did you begin to write? Who were the first to read what you wrote?
I became an avid reader in childhood, went on to do my Master's in English, then, on graduation from university, scored my first job as editor of a Toronto-based calendar-type guide/entertainment magazine. That was my first taste of the anonymity that is the hallmark of an editor's life, but I also gained a profound appreciation for the vision required to serve as a guiding mind in shaping a publication to meet and address its audience's needs. From there, I became managing editor of a business magazine, which I then had a big hand in rebranding, assuming the additional role of art director in the process. So, while I began my professional career as an editor, an invaluable skill set that continues to serve me well, I later turned to freelance writing—corporate and marketing communications—and today make my living largely as a writer.
What is your favorite genre? Can you provide a link to a site where we can read some of your work or learn something about it?
My specialty, broadly speaking, is communications: strategic marketing communications, with an emphasis on B2B, business writing/journalism (see http://www.appliedartsmag.com/past_blasts.php?id=8&mediaId=52&clip=2#header), corporate histories, brochures, websites (http://www.peoplelytic.com/), articles, presentations, case studies, survey results, proposals, marketing fact/sell sheets, press releases, ads, advertorials, and so on.
My work spans just about every conceivable industry sector, from IT, financial, professional, business advisory and wireless telecommunications services to arts marketing and high-end fashion retailing.
I encourage readers of this interview to visit my "Marketing Yourself" Job Advice Blog. Click on the first link below to see my latest guest post, "A friendlier Twitter for job seekers."
Or find me on LinkedIn, where I regularly contribute to the Q&A forum and rank ninth on the all-time Top-10 Experts list, plus these links to my other sites:
What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
Close consultation with my client, information gathering, online research and conducting interviews with key players, such as subject matter experts, to get a solid sense of what strategic messages I need to convey and the intended audience.
What type of reading inspires you to write?
As a news junkie and a critical reader, I find inspiration in topics that engage, even anger, a wide spectrum of people—that are the talk of the town and of the world, so to speak—especially think pieces. I'm particularly interested in opinions, essays, the editorial voice in all its many colours and shades. I am a great admirer, for example, of Lewis Lapham's Notebook commentaries, which appeared monthly during his long tenure as the editor of Harper's Magazine, and of the work of such provocateurs as Christopher Hitchens.
What well known writers do you admire most?
Largely 17th to early 20th century writers, such as Jane Austen, George Eliot, Joseph Conrad, Henry James, Virginia Woolf, William Faulkner...the list just goes on and on.
Deep down inside, who do you write for?
I'm extremely self-motivated, so I'm always trying to top myself, to push myself to get the message I'm conveying not only right but across in as clear, logical, compelling, even gripping, a way as I can. Though I'm working on behalf of a client, my writing has to achieve a certain pace and rhythm, an urgency as well, that's pleasing to my ear before it ever hits his or her desk.
Do you participate in competitions? Have you received any awards?
I have done, yes. Oddly enough, or perhaps this speaks to my versatility, strong aesthetic and creative streak, given I'm highly visual, most of the awards I've won have been for editorial (magazine) art direction—both illustration and photography. I love working with graphic designers and other creatives and the love affair is usually mutual, leading to some outstanding collaborations. When it comes to interpreting complex, often abstract topics, the opportunity always exists to push the design envelope, and I relish those opportunities.
Do you share rough drafts of your writings with someone whose opinion you trust?
My clients are my editors, along with my writing colleagues and peers.
Do you believe you have already found "your voice" or is that something one is always searching for?
From a style perspective, yes. Definitely. That's the mark of a skilled wordsmith. The rhetorical voice comes most naturally to me, stemming no doubt from my critical bent. I'm always questioning the logic, underlying agenda, credibility and veracity of statements and arguments put forward by others. So when I write, I often pose provocative questions to catch and keep my readers' attention and get them to think a little harder about the issues I'm raising. While my role is to influence, even persuade, I want my readers to trust that I am leaving no stone unturned, so to speak.
What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?
Deadlines focus my mind. Whether I have a mere 24 hours to deliver a polished piece, a week or even longer, I get to work straightaway and do whatever it takes to get the job done, thoroughly and well.
What do you surround yourself with in your work area in order to help your concentrate?
Being highly visual, my office space is filled with stimulating art and colourful objects. All I need for concentration is quiet so I can focus my mind on the task at hand.
Do you write on a computer? Do you print frequently? Do you correct on paper? What is your process?
A computer is essential to my work since I'm constantly revising. I only print for proofreading purposes, once I've completed my first draft. It's always a revelation to me the number of changes I make when I see the hard copy.
What sites do you frequent on-line to share experiences or information?
LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. I'm highly engaged in social media and am a regular contributor. I think of these sites as enlarging my knowledge base, overall perspective, personal network and sphere of influence.
Judy B. Margolis