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William C. Altreuter
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Thursday, July 31, 2008

An amusing piece on writing for lifestyle magazines.

"Not too long ago, I was at a party with a number of people who have successful careers in lifestyle journalism. I was chatting with a beautiful, sexy friend who writes for a magazine that covers luxury spa vacations. She got that job, in part, because she wrote a wonderful travel book about bathing culture which one critic claimed 'bred a new publishing hybrid, the beauty-travel memoir, Bruce Chatwin by way of Allure magazine.'
As we chatted, I shared some good news with her: I had just been hired to write a newspaper column about spirits and cocktails.
'You should really meet my friend,' she told me. 'He’s the perfume critic at the Times.'
'Really?' I said. 'Let me just see if I’m hearing this correctly. The luxury spa columnist would like the spirits columnist to meet the perfume columnist.'
'Yes,' she said, with a beautiful, sexy smile.
'Wait,' I said. 'Did you just hear that?'


'What?'
'Oh, nothing,' I said. 'I just thought for a second that I heard the sound of the Apocalypse happening.'
"

I don't imagine that anything we write for Spree is all that apocalyptic, but there is a larger point: it is a challenge to write "lifestyle" articles that don't immediately lapse into cliche. This stuff is ephemera about ephemera; it's Mayflies reporting on the evanescent. And it's harder to do than it looks.

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