You’ve heard of the old prank where someone takes your pink flamingo yard ornament (or garden gnome) and sends you photos of it posing in front of the Eiffel Tower and other destinations? I think it’s a wonderful tradition, and if I could bear the sight of such a thing in my yard, I’d have one, and hope that someone would take it somewhere wonderful.
In lieu of keeping a pink flamingo in my yard, I work in a university public information office. Occasionally, I write a press release to announce that a study by one of our scientists has been published. Sometimes media outlets in foreign lands pick up those press releases. They write their own story using the information and pictures that I launched from my windowless cube here at UC Santa Cruz. Once, a story popped up in a German science magazine. Today, one of “my” stories popped up in Canada headed for a short spot on a Discovery Channel nature show.
When I see the stories at their new destination in their new and improved form, I feel like I’m getting a photo of my pink flamingo in front of the Eiffel Tower. It makes me proud — even though it isn’t my “mad writing skills” that propelled the story to a moment of greatness. They are interesting stories that don’t need much in the way of marketing to pique the interest of readers. All I had to do was keep my words out of the way of a good story so that other writers could prepare the material for their audience to consume.
Not bad work if you can get it.