What you can learn from the man who wrote a Bruce Springsteen profile

Word count: 262 words

Reading time: 1 minute

This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help writers.  

I had just finished reading an excellent New Yorker profile of Bruce Sprinsteen when a friend sent me a Tumbler #storyboard  article about the man who wrote that profile, David Remnick.

The Tumbler piece — which includes a video interview with Remnick — describes the author’s experience of writing profiles in general and the Springsteen piece in particular. Reading the two articles side by side — the Springsteen one and the Tumbler backgrounder — is about as inexpensive an education as you can get in profile writing. The Tumbler article even contains a complete link to Gay Talese’s ground-breaking profile of Frank Sinatra (which was completed without a single interview with the subject.)

My only complaint about the Tumbler piece? In his 4-minute video Remnick is, to my mind, unnecessarily self-critical. Remnick says of the writing process: “To be too satisfied too early is probably a mistake of youth…Or middle age. Or whatever it might be.” Of all people, he should know that writers are ill-equipped to evaluate the merits of their own writing.

If you’re prepared to ignore that negativity, read the Tumbler piece, watch its video and most of all, read the Springsteen article. It’s incredibly engaging and very well written. Springsteen’s 1975 album, Born to Run, helped power me through university. But even if you’re not a Springsteen fan, read the article as an object lesson in how to write profiles.

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