There is an oft-stated belief among editors that an interview or forum discussion is the “easiest” kind of article to pull together. There are no long hours of research. No original writing. There are just some questions awaiting the interviewees’ creative answers.
If only it were that easy.
First, there is the matter of scheduling, which, in the case of our four-member forum leading off this issue, called upon associate editor Rodney Clapp to do some creative date-book maneuvering. (Research never looked so good!)
Then there was the forum itself. Participants came to Chicago’s O’Hare Hilton unusually well prepared to deal with a ticklish topic. Author Richard Foster, for example, came with a briefcase full of books, spoke for 20 minutes about the history of Christian meditation, and later read from several books to demonstrate the historic Christian use of the imagination. All participants had copious notes on the presubmitted questions.
This, of course, not only assured an outstanding give and take, but a gargantuan editing task for Rodney—who spent two weeks cutting thousands of lines down to magazine size, taking changes over the telephone, and working for one entire day with a participant who felt his viewpoint had been too weakly presented in the “final draft.”
After two “final” drafts made their way past the forum foursome, we finally had the discussion beginning on page 17. And Rodney was ready for his next assignment—and some original writing.
HAROLD SMITH, Managing Editor1
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