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Former editor of reader’s digest speaks
He was a gray-haired, short man with glasses, who had animated his hand movements. By taking a quick glance, not many would expect him to be a phenomenal author and former journalist. That is exactly who Stanley Englebardt is.
Englebardt was a guest speaker at Quinnipiac last week. He addressed two Mass Communications feature writing classes about his experience with free-lance writing and his new venture into non-fiction writing.
Englebardt described himself and his profession as that of a loner. “You have no real contact with humans,” Englebardt said about writing. “It takes discipline and a `loner’ type personality to write all the time.”
Englebardt was a roving editor for Reader’s Digest Magazine for 20 years. This position allowed him to travel world-wide, researching and interviewing the world’s most intriguing people. This job has led him to continents such as Africa, where Englebardt did a human interest piece on the “piggy-backing vaccine.”
The story idea for the Africa article was developed by Englebardt, through a process called networking. Networking, as Englebardt described, is a process in which one contact helps develop the story. Sometimes, networking may lead the original story idea into a totally different direction than the author intended. It is up the author to decide which direction to take the story, depending on what type of publication he is pitching the story to.
While networking may develop great story ideas, Englebardt stressed that pieces where the author has a personal connection are the best story ideas. “Things you hear about, read about, and you see” are what make a good story idea, Englebardt said.
This advice has allowed Englebardt to succeed in the world of free-lance writing. He has had more than 1,200 pieces published. His work has been published in various magazines, including Family Circle, Women’s Journal, and the travel section of The New York Times.
Most of Englebardt’s success has come from his becoming an expert in certain areas. Englebardt’s areas of expertise are in the medical and science fields. Intertwining knowledge and personal situations, has led to countless published articles for Englebardt.
“Why We Suffer” was an article about Englebardt’s personal experience with a friend who was dying of cancer. This personal touch, added to interviews with various doctors from across the country, made that article popular among readers.
Oddly enough, Englebardt, world-renowned journalist and non-fiction author, never envisioned himself as a free-lance writer. He became involved in writing by accident.
In college, Englebardt used to tell bedtime stories to the children of a friend. His wife took down the tales and sent them to a publisher. “I got lucky. The first 20 things I did and submitted were purchased and published,” Englebardt said.
“All you need is an inquiring mind and the ability to look beyond the obvious,” Englebardt said. That formula led to Englebardt’s success. That was over 30 years ago. Here we are, in the new millennium, still enjoying Englebardt’s work.