In the early 1800’s, people would refer to a railway steam locomotive as the “devil’s wagon” and proclaim, “You’ll never get me on one of those things. Who needs to go 20 miles per hour anyway? Nobody needs to go that fast.” This proves that things change. It’s better to figure out how to make new templates work than to accept defeat because you cannot acclimate. The latest version of this example might be the statement that print is dead. Although literal “print” does not fair well, the discipline of telling tales and delivering news is just as alive as it ever was; it has simply taken on a new form. As proof, you are reading this on a screen right now. Our current day writers, like Sarah Gooding, are more comfortable with a keyboard than a pen or quill (if you are from the 19th century). Sarah and her peers cast a net as wide as any of the great auteurs of the past and with greater immediacy. That’s not to say that current day writers are necessarily more gifted, simply that they have acclimated to the pace and focus of society. The freedom of content is wider than ever and yet, there are limitations…you sometimes have to be brilliant in 140 characters. Sarah Gooding arrived at her career just as everything was changing.
Originally from New Zealand, Gooding has worked with a variety of publications. Most of these have been online and one of the most notable was Einstein Music Journal (EMJ). This award-winning site, devoted to music and art, is the place to which Gooding credits a great deal of her writing DNA, but she did not set out on that course originally. After studying communications at university, Sarah interned at Real Groove magazine in New Zealand. Writing for Real Groove (and its sister magazine Groove Guide), she interviewed artists such as; The Velvet Undergound’s John Cale, legendary singer Mavis Staples, Keith Flint of Prodigy, and (a somewhat grumpy) Ryan Adams. Interviewing these iconic musicians is an achievement in itself. Most importantly, she discovered the widely creative possibilities of writing based on her own interest and love of pop culture. But just as importantly, an article in the magazine covered a new music blog and its founder Nick Fulton. Fulton was looking for a writer and soon the two were working together. This venture morphed into Einstein Music Journal.
Einstein Music Journal gave Sarah the frequency and volume to hone her craft at a fast pace as well as the platform to reach a global audience. Gooding’s writing became so respected that many US artists premiered songs on EMJ (as on online publication, EMJ displays both written articles and video/audio) and many of her articles were syndicated on websites around the world like The Guardian and Art Rocker. The romanticism that surrounded record shops in the ‘90s was being realized in a new medium with EMJ. Writers like Gooding and Fulton were writing about things that they were extremely passionate about exposing. Gooding reveals a lesson which she learned at EMJ that still hold true for her, stating, “I really enjoy giving a voice to people that are doing really important and interesting work; work that might not otherwise get attention. It’s important on a personal level, but it also makes for valuable writing.” It’s that type of heartfelt sincerity that led to achievements like EMJ’s recognition as a finalist in Concrete Playground’s Blogger Awards and New York City’s Breakthru Radio’s Blog of the Week. In this new era, the music blog is what the original version of San Francisco’s Rolling Stone was in 1967; young passionate writers who felt music and social change intertwined.
EMJ was interviewing artist like St. Vincent, Vampire Weekend, and Beach House as they were just beginning to emerge onto the global scene, as well as developing a presence for New Zealand bands. At the same time, due to her writing with EMJ, Gooding’s career was having an inverse correlation to this. Major publications were noticing her ability to transfer her enthusiasm in an online format as well as her cross-genre relatability. REMIX magazine asked her to write the cover story (a lengthy eighteen pages) about New Zealand’s top fashion designers. This led to Sarah taking over the official onsite daily newsletters for New Zealand Fashion Week and eventually, a staff role with New Zealand’s biggest selling magazine New Zealand’s Woman’s Weekly. Giving further weight to her writing credentials and online presence, New York Times columnist David Carr shared an essay which Gooding wrote with his 250,000 Twitter followers. This archetype using the vehicle of Twitter validated Sarah to a young generation as well as possibly a more traditional one. Steve Duck of Complex magazine investigated Gooding’s writing skills by assigning her a story about a jacket; one that was created for pop icon Kim Kardashian. The content might seem mundane (with the exception of Kardashian’s noteworthy status), but the article presented much more than the obvious content. Duck notes, “I was particularly interested in the references to French philosopher Jean Baudrillard’s ‘Simulacra and Simulation.’ I was thrilled with the story. It did great page view numbers for us. I sent it on to my peers at Complex in the US, who republished it on their site, where it once again did great numbers. The piece was a perfect blend of accessible content, intelligent analysis, and fun storytelling.”
The application of writing in an online platform is commonplace nowadays. While Einstein Music Journal gave Gooding a foundation for her writing and approach, the proliferation of feedback online has created a new dynamic for modern writers. Rather than shying away from this, Gooding basks in it. She reveals, “There’s nothing better than being a part of a global community of readers and writers on the internet. When a US magazine published a response article challenging my essay on Medium, I didn’t expect that. I also didn’t expect to be contacted by an author in Las Vegas who wanted to quote my writing in his new book about business communication but that also happened.” It is serendipitous that so many writers and publications in the US are taking note of Gooding’s skills and achievements as she has a great affinity for American culture and writers. Sarah confirms, “I have always felt like the most exciting voices, publications, and organizations are in the US. I’ve always thought working there would be the pinnacle. I travelled there on holiday and instantly felt at home.” The original moniker of EMJ was “Einstein, Disguised as Robin Hood” taken from a Bob Dylan lyric. Perhaps the most widely know of Dylan’s lyrics is “The Times They Are-A-Changin”…which is also the most appropriate description of current day writers and Sarah Gooding’s role.