We just met with Doreen Zudell, writer and editor for Aerospace Frontiers, Glenn’s monthly news publication. She used to put together the entire thing completely by herself; she now accomplishes the daunting task with the help of one assistant.
Even if I had tried, I couldn’t have manufactured a collection of publications as diverse and crazy as the list on Doreen’s resume. Before working for NASA she wrote for a Catholic convent, the premiere trade magazine of the hospitality industry, a magazine that evaluates carpeting and tile for schools and colleges (she seemed really excited about this one, for some reason), and a car engine parts magazine. Whoa. She had a lot of useful things to say about writing and about life in general. Each industry or field has its own lexicon of commonly used words and phrases, a bag of tricks a writer has to master for each type of publication. Doreen told us that, for example, when she handled the nuns’ publications she was constantly using words like “affirmed” and “triumphant”. For Doreen the most valuable skill she has is adaptability. She emphasized the importance of mastering the basics but making sure you are flexible, and I agree with her and think that advice can be applied to any vocation. It’s also important to love what you do; Doreen interviews a lot of NASA employees, and she says it’s evident when she speaks to someone who isn’t inspired or doesn’t believe in what he is doing. Crying when you are driving home from work is ok too; that’s what Doreen did when she first got the job of editing the Glenn newsletter and felt completely over her head and out of her league. Of course she persevered, mainly through she was determined wasn’t afraid to appear ignorant and ask a lot of questions.
Doreen’s words of wisdom were largely things I already intuitively know, but it was refreshing to hear them again from someone who isn’t working in a purely technical field. Yeah yeah, this entry devolved into somewhat of a generic motivational career advice pep-talk, but I think at present I really needed it. Speaking with Doreen also made me think more about writing and the possibility of becoming a writer (maybe a science writer?). For at least the third time this summer I heard about how there’s a complete lack of science knowledge and understanding in the media.