A Job and its Influences

by Donnell Ann Bell

One of the greatest rewards in life is if a person can go to work every day and enjoy what they’re doing. I had such a job during my tenure at the Colorado Springs Business Journal. It was a place I learned the ins and outs of the Associated Press Stylebook and Libel Manual and learned the importance of teamwork.

Especially on print day.

On print day, everyone who came and went during the week, was required to meet in one large room so we could put the paper to bed. This included the editor, writers, digital formatter, layout specialist, and copyreader/proofreader. Ad execs would often buzz into the room with a last-minute ad copy, meaning an article would have to be shortened or even scrapped, depending on ad size. Of course, the owner would pop in several times during the day to ensure we were meeting our deadline. He had the final responsibility of getting the paper to the printer by four p.m. sharp.

Sounds like a stressful time, and it could be. It also generated camaraderie, a sense of purpose, and pride in our content and the paper’s reputation. We often scooped the daily in business news.

Working at the CSBJ was also incredibly fun. During this helter-skelter time where everyone was busy, we listened to music. Naturally, everyone had their preferences. Our formatter loved Pink Floyd and hard rock, our proofreader preferred classical, another liked golden oldies, while I was partial to country—much to everyone’s chagrin.

Because everyone had their favorites, we had a contest every week. Whoever could name the song and the artist owned the channel until they were toppled. I knew my country music and I rarely missed.

One print day, after I had successfully named every artist and song for hours, everyone in the print room revolted.  Our graphic artist, known for spouting more than a few expletives anyway, said if we didn’t change that @#$%^ channel, he was going to throw the radio out the window.

Poor sports if you ask me, but since we’d be lost without the music, I, the undisputed champion, graciously agreed.

I left that job to work for Pikes Peak Parent Newsmagazine, and, later, my love of writing would lead to my fiction career. Country music inspired my first novel. The unpublished title was called Walk Away Joe based on the song by Tricia Yearwood and Don Henley. My editor and Bellebooks/Bell Bridge Books changed my debut title to The Past Came Hunting.

Hmmm. Now that I think about it, I wonder if my editor could have been in cahoots with the graphic artist.

So, how about you? Have you ever been fortunate to work at a job you love, and did something about that job influence you the way music inspires me?

About the Author:  Donnell Ann Bell is an award-winning author of four bestselling romantic suspense novels and two mainstream task force suspense novels. Until Dead, a Cold Case Suspense, the follow up to Black Pearl, was released on May 31, 2022. Currently, she is working on book three. Readers can find her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, or BookBub. For social media contact or to learn more, find her at www.donnellannbell.com




4 replies
  1. Gay Yellen
    Gay Yellen says:

    Donnell, I, too was lucky enough to be part of two magazine ventures. They were the first and second jobs of what would become a professional writing career, and I enjoyed them both. But the job that influenced my writing the most was before that at The American Film Institute, where learned the ins and outs of filmmaking. I loved that job. To this day, when I write, I see each scene play out in my mind as if it were on the big screen.

  2. Lois Winston
    Lois Winston says:

    I spent many years freelancing for both craft and women’s magazines. When I was asked to write a crafting cozy mystery, instead of choosing one craft for my amateur sleuth, I made her the editor at a women’s magazine, which enabled me to feature a different craft in each book of the series. And although I was writing directions for craft projects, not fiction, having to work within the space constraints of each magazine forced me to “write tight”, a skill that has served me well in writing fiction.

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