Eleven years (!) ago, on a make or break interview for a lifestyle writer position for one of the country’s biggest publications, I was asked by the daily’s VP for HR why I wanted to be a writer. I was a broadcasting graduate, freshly out of university and miserably idealistic. I answered, “Because I wanted to be like Lois Lane”.
I didn’t know if the old (strict looking, dignified) lady was amused or that she is a Superman fan herself, but I got the job the next day.
Unfortunately, this story doesn’t have a happy ending (like me meeting my version of Clark Kent or winning the Pulitzer like Lois), I left my job more than a year after that fateful interview. It was due to the fact that I’ve been having a lot of differences with my boss, the lifestyle editor.
Eleven years after my abrupt departure to one of the best jobs I’ve been blessed with, I came across Superman: Earth One, the modern retelling of the story of the Man of Steel.
While I obviously hyperventilated with the sight of a 20 year old brooding Clark Kent, it is the feisty and sarcastic editor-in-chief Perry White and his witty one-liners that made me go into a status-updating frenzy in Facebook. I was quoting Perry White, man!
I wish he was my editor when I was still a reporter. Yeah, he would have made me his whipping girl and would have treated me worst than his usual tough love with Clark Kent, but damn straight Lois won that Pulitzer due to White’s guidance (albeit a really annoying one)!
Here are some of White’s winning lines from Superman: Earth One —
“Active sentence structure versus passive structure. A good reporter always goes for the former. Never the later” — I am so guilty of mistake as I always have the tendency to use the passive voice.
“You fell in love with the words, and put yourself too far in the story. Write about what you’re writing about, not about you writing about what you’re writing about” — shall I also include, do not be so in love with your words, you start sounding like
a pompous ass”
“News is for the front page of the newspaper, the editorial is at the back…let me know where you’d want your name to appear”
And lastly — a good writer writes from his soul.
I can only wish to be that kind of writer Perry White can be utterly proud of.