What I Do

Larry Lynch  Photo: Liz Hafalia, The Chronicle

Larry Lynch Photo: Liz Hafalia, The Chronicle

In February 2009, I started writing a weekly column called What I Do for the San Francisco Chronicle. Inspired by Studs Terkel, who wrote the book Working, I wanted to capture the first-person stories of Bay Area people describing their jobs.

      Most of my subjects had never been interviewed before and many were surprised if not startled that a journalist thought them interesting enough to write about in the Chronicle. That was part of why I enjoyed meeting them: unlike politicians or celebrities, they weren’t overly cautious, suspicious or practiced at the art of spin.

      The format was always the same: I wrote a two- or three-paragraph introduction in my voice, and the rest of the piece was in the voice of the subject. I taped the interviews, selected the best parts and structured them into a narrative. I loved meeting folks from so many different professions and backgrounds. I didn’t see it as writing profiles, per se, but rather as “presenting” these people – creating a platform from which they could speak.

In summer of 2013, the Chronicle discontinued What I Do because of budget cuts. Here are 12 of my favorite columns.