Week Three: A working writer

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Monday, June 21, 2021


Madison Brewer

This week was magazine heavy. Each issue takes a month to perfect. Between stories, art, page design, book and product reviews, and articles written by experts, there is a lot of planning to be done in advance. I didn’t have much writing to do this week; instead, I got to do behind the scenes work. My first story was finally approved by the editors, and then I sent it to the researchers whose work it was about. They only had a few edits (and they complimented my writing), giving me a much needed ego boost. With their approval, I sent the piece to the copy editors. (For those who don’t know, copy editors check for Physics Today style. That is, they make sure the pieces follow our grammar rules.) 

With that completed, it was time to find a topic for my second piece. I thought it would be fairly easy—there’s plenty of interesting research—but boy was I wrong. Interesting research doesn’t necessarily equal an interesting story, and distinguishing between the two was difficult. My mentor also encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone, so I tried to avoid astronomy topics. It was especially hard because so much astronomy research immediately struck me as interesting! Reading papers about other areas of physics, such as optics and materials science, was challenging, but I found an interesting paper to write about. 

I am also working on a book review. It will be short, only about 100 words, but I am excited for the new opportunity. I had never written a book review before. Ryan, the New Books and Media editor, showed me how to write a useful review without spending hours pouring over the text. It was easier than I thought it would be, though I spent a lot of time looking at past reviews for structure and style. 

My final task this week was to look for art for the “backscatter,” which is a science image printed towards the end of the magazine. I searched for science artists, and I will email them next week to see if they have any images for us. 

One of the most fun parts of the week was playing werewolf with the other interns. Everyone took the game the perfect amount of serious, so it was a great time. Then, on Tuesday, I met Maura at Dunkin on our university campus. We simulated working in an office before getting lunch at a nearby park. 

Overall, this week was great, and I think next week will be too!


Madison Brewer (she/her)