Monday Musings: Other writings

The inside of the Buddhist shrine at the Japanese Hall in Gering.

For most of my time working at the Scottsbluff Star-Herald newspaper, I didn’t have much of a fear about what would happen to my stories once I turned them in. The rule goes “the editor can, and sometimes will, change your story.”

I had an editor, assistant editor, who became editor, and good people on the copy desk, who didn’t fuck up my stories. Although they were more experienced than me, everyone tried not to chop my stories too much.

Often, the changes they made were minor and mostly for space limitations in the printed paper. If a lot of changes needed to be made, they all preferred to send the copy back to me so I could shorten it myself and make sure it continued to flow well.

Only once did I stand my ground and made the editor take out a part of my story. His words to me were, “Irene, if this were in Time Magazine, it would be fine, but old people live here and we will get phone calls.” My story was about a young veteran and I wrote graphically about what he’d seen. I refused to budge. My editor reworded the graphic bits to tone it down a bit.

One other time, my last editor just randomly cut my story to fit on one page after asking for a three-part story. The paper had enough space to run the entire thing on Sunday, so the copy desk took my original and put all the cut bits back in.

Fast forward to today and I’ve been writing some freelance work for Wyobraska Magazine. It’s online only for now, but the goal is to eventually have something in print. Anyway, I wrote a story about the Sheep Creek Cemetery in western Nebraska. It’s about 30 minutes from my house and is the only remaining evidence of the black community in western Nebraska from the early 20th century.

I was working with a new editor, who I never met. She told the publisher, “Irene’s going to hate what I did to her story.” I don’t know what it was. The publisher said everything is fine. I haven’t read the story since it went online. I have too much fear and too much passion toward that story to ever go look at what was done to it. The editor has since moved on and I have been asked to do the editing work.

My next project for Wyobraska Magazine involved the publisher asking me to write the script for a video for the Old West Balloon Fest, which just finished up three years of hosting the nationals. This was a first for me.

I also wrote a story about the Japanese Hall, which originally was located in Scottsbluff. It was in danger of being demolished and Scotts Bluff County has a rich history of the Japanese immigrating here. The story went online yesterday.

Vickie Sakaruda Schaepler and I have gotten to know each other well over the years because I have followed the story of raising funds to move the building as well as writing about the Japanese in the area. I wrote several stories for the newspaper and I was pleased to be able to follow up on how things are going.

The Japanese Hall is now at its new home on the property of the Legacy of the Plains Museum in Gering. I’m pretty proud of the story. I’ve even thought of writing more about the Japanese in general because the story is so fascinating to me and these people should not be forgotten. I hope my story is a good one and spreads the history of an important time in Scotts Bluff County.

If you would like to read my stories, you can visit the website:

Wyobraska Magazine

Sheep Creek Cemetery

The Japanese Hall

Old West Balloon Fest

I will be writing more stories for Wyobraska Magazine as well as my personal stories here. I hope you enjoy everything.


Monday Musings: How women are treated


Appreciating Londo and Harvey on National Black Cat Appreciation Day


  1. AJ

    “Old people live here “.
    Kinda insulting to intellect or pointing out intolerance.
    Your writing in the StarHerald was terrific. It was original.
    Now all they seem to do is copy/paste off of the AP, and the folks on the ground seem to have the duty of Fluff Pieces. You do real reporting.
    Your writing is informative, descriptive, and well put together.

    • Irene

      Thank you for the kind words. I was kind of ticked at that comment, especially since I know “old people” in this area, who wouldn’t be upset at graphic descriptions of war.

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