5/24/2010 Jill Colford Schoeniger ’86

Spring 2010

I love good stories. I love reading them. I love writing them. I love sharing them.

“I am easily and often inspired.”

That’s the six-word memoir I created after reading Not Quite What I Was Planning, a compilation of six-word memoirs edited by Rachel Fershleiser and Larry Smith. The book’s inspiration derives from the story (some say myth) that Ernest Hemingway was challenged to write a story in six words and came up with this gem: “For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

The book was a wonderful read. The memoirs range from funny (“The psychic said I’d be richer.” Elizabeth Bernstein) to poignant (“I still make coffee for two.” Zak Nelson) to just plain goofy (“Fifteen years since last professional haircut.” Dave Eggers). Each of them offers a glimpse into the author’s life story.

My six words explain why editing an alumni magazine is a perfect fit for me. I love good stories. I love reading them. I love writing them. I love sharing them.

This issue is chock full of such stories. The reflections by Chris Campbell Sr. as he talks about his son who died while training for the 2007 F&M soccer season and whose friends, teammates and family have come together to honor his legacy in South Africa inspired me. The story of Tom Gipson ’65, the humble homebuilder who has helped build nearly 1,000 homes for Habitat for Humanity, made me want to pick up a hammer.

The challenge with these stories is not in the telling, but in the finding. While attending the CASE Editors Forum in Boston, I heard long discussions about where editors find the best stories.

Time and time again, I learned what I already knew. Some of the best story ideas come from unexpected places—chatting with an alum at Homecoming, standing in line with a House don at Jazzman’s or talking with a parent at a sporting event. I’m always on the lookout for a kernel of an idea that we can turn into a compelling story.

I get excited as soon as I hear the words, “I don’t know if you’ve heard.” Those are six words every editor loves. And keep sending in those class notes—even if they are only six words long.


Jill Colford Schoeniger ‘86 jill.schoeniger@fandm.edu Twitter: @fmeditor
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