Interview: Michael McCloskey

Is there value in getting a book edited?

They made my books better.

All my books have been ones classified as nonfiction works in the category of regional studies.

I find the editing process to be very valuable. However, for each of my various books, the editors have focused on different things. In one case, they improved the grammar. In another, they checked the accuracy of the facts. In another, they made sure that I had permission to use long extracts from the writings of others.

In other words, in each case they did what was needed, and I appreciated their help. They made my books better.

What was your favorite part of the publishing process?

It all adds up to developing a following of people who look for my books.

I have enjoyed the whole process. I like doing the research and thinking about my topic. As I go along, I gather facts and thoughts and gradually organize them. I also enjoy the process of composition. Over time, I smooth out what I have written. I write some each day, and then review what I have written a couple of times.

And, finally I enjoy the process of going out and talking about my books to audiences. The best audiences are those that are interested in the topic of the book. Sometimes the audiences are larger, and sometimes smaller. Sometimes I then sell more of my books, and others times fewer of them.

It all adds up to developing a following of people who look for my books.

How is writing a part of your life and motivation?

In retirement, I like to keep my mind engaged. Writing does this for me. It requires me to stay informed, to pay attention to trends, follow the field in which I worked, and to be attentive to detail.

It is what I do every day—and look forward to. It makes living worthwhile.

About Michael McCloskey

McCloskey was born in Eugene on April 26, 1934. After graduating from Harvard University, McCloskey attended law school at the University of Oregon. Upon earning his degree in 1961, he was hired as the first field organizer for the Sierra Club, a California-based outdoor club with twenty-five employees.

As executive director of the Sierra Club from 1969 to 1985, he built Sierra Club membership from 70,000 to over half a million. He led what became one of the most influential environmental organizations in the world.

Now retired as chair of the Sierra Club, McCloskey remains active on behalf of national environmental issues. Until February 2010, he was a trustee of the Sierra Club Foundation, and for several years he was president of the Federation of Western Outdoor Clubs. He is a member of the World Commission on Protected Areas and of the Commission on Environmental Law of the World Conservation Union. McCloskey received the John Muir Award of the Sierra Club (1979), the Fred Packard Award of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (2003), and the Conservation Award of the Federation of Western Outdoor Clubs (2004).

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