He may not begin every column with, “Today, I got to thinking.” but Ron Geraci, the “male Carrie Bradshaw,” puts a lot of thought into relationships. In Ed@TCNJ’s first event of the semester, The Dating Game: A Magazine Columnist’s Guide to Storytelling & Love, Geraci shared his experiences as a well-known dating columnist.
Geraci began recapping his dating adventures and mishaps with Men’s Health in 1995. According to Geraci, his column, “This Dating Life,” was intended to share the experiences of “the average schlub, which I took as a great compliment.” He then began to write for match.com and to edit for AARP Magazine.
Editors are notoriously reluctant to be the first to try a new idea, but “once you’ve done something for someone else, people are very eager to use you in that capacity,” Geraci said.
“I thought this was a very helpful presentation to hear, especially from a columnist,” Alex Seise, sophomore journalism major, said. “A lot of the time, you just hear about writers or the editors.”
Last summer, he also released his first book, “The Bachelor Chronicles.” The memoir tells of the hundreds of dates Geraci had during the years he spent with Men’s Health. He explained that the fundamental element of his book, and his writing in general, was that he didn’t “try to make something a little bit neater or a little bit funnier than it was.” In Geraci’s case, there really is no need for this.
“I’ve had just about every typical bad date you can imagine,” Geraci said. “I had a date that showed up who was a single amputee and, the whole evening, I couldn’t stop fixating on this. That was a strange date, due to my insensitive reaction to someone with a disability. I had a date where, the next morning, I had to write a police report, because her boyfriend . well, that’s in the book.”
“I thought it was interesting to write from life experience,” Samantha Kennedy, senior philosophy and journalism major, said. “It’s one of my interests when I finally get a job.”
After all his success, Geraci still remembers from where he first got his drive to write. An alumnus of the College, he credits Dr. Robert Cole, former journalism professor, with instilling that motivation in him.
“The moment I knew I wanted to write, I was in Dr. Cole’s magazine writing class,” he said.
For an assignment in Cole’s class, Geraci chose to write about the recent death of a friend. When the class read his piece, he looked around and saw a girl crying in the back of the room. According to Geraci, it was then that he realized he could affect people with his words.
“(Ed@TCNJ’s founder Tammy Tibbetts) thought he would be a good choice for a future program,” Monique Reuben, junior English major and the president of Ed@TCNJ, said. “It was a plus that he was a (College) alum.”
But how does one become a successful writer in an area that often seems so clich?? The key, Geraci said, is developing your own voice.
“Someone once told me – and it’s true – that you have to write a hundred-thousand words before you have a voice,” he said.
Also, he advised that prospective writers learn to fill a need that every editor will have. Successful magazine writers either become experts on a constantly changing field, dive into a field that is “sexy and competitive,” like celebrity news, or learn to cover age-old questions in a new and interesting way. These “evergreens,” as Geraci calls them, are the domain of the relationship columnist. From his experience, Geraci says that there really are only seven or eight themes to relationship questions, although each theme can be reworded many different ways.
“If you can answer these questions in a distinctive way, that’s the easiest way to being a columnist without any expertise,” Geraci said.
With over 10 years of writing under his belt, Geraci is hardly without expertise. Many consider him to be an expert in his field, but Geraci feels that the title is unwarranted credit.
“People often question me: ‘How could you know anything about relationships if you’re still single?'” he said. “This whole ‘dating expert’ thing makes me sick.”
And how does he feel about being the “male Carrie Bradshaw”?
“She’s a woman – she’s a good-looking woman,” he said. “She only has to say ‘yes’ most of the time. I’m a man. Dating is a completely different priority for me. And the reality of the situation is I look terrible in a little black dress.”