Picked up a copy of the October issue of Reader's Digest today. I've been doing freelance work for RD on contract for almost a year now. My main role is editorial (drumming up material for stories, editing stories and digesting "pickups" from other magazines, acting as a liaison with writers, etc.), but I parlayed that into a writing assignment for them, which has just been published. Hence the title of this post. More people will probably read this article than all of the books I'll publish in my lifetime, combined.
My article, entitled "Doctor Igloo," is a profile of an old friend of mine, Dr. Paul Stubbing, who worked as a physician in Iqaluit for three decades. I came to know Paul through his kids--his son Mike, now a partner in the accounting firm Grant Thornton, was in my grade at high school in Ottawa, and we became, and still are, good friends. I got to know Paul better when I went to Iqaluit in the mid-'90s, and would have the occasional meal at the Stubbings' bay-side home. A poem in my first book is based on a story he told me over one such dinner, and is dedicated to him. So it was very meaningful for me to have the opportunity to shine a spotlight on one of the country's unsung everyday heroes--the sort of guy who would never seek out this kind of attention, and deserves it all the more because of that. (My story is far from the only recognition he's received of late, as Paul was also recently appointed to the Order of Canada, thanks to the initiative of some fellow long-time northerners.) The story is not available on line, but RD can be purchased pretty near anywhere.
This issue of RD also features a digested version of a story I scooped from my good friends at Riddle Fence magazine: Monica Kidd's harrowing experience of breaking her back on a canoeing trip in BC. Very powerful piece. And neat to see an essay that originally appeared in a small literary mag get reprinted in as big a forum as RD. Conventional wisdom says there's not much overlap between these two types of magazine, but the more I work with RD, the less fervently I believe it.