Fighting my fears

First off, I’d like to say that I do apologize for my lack of a post last week. Life got kind of crazy between two very big tests, a football game, going to Kansas City with a friend and generally trying to do normal life things.

That being said, quite a lot of things have happened in the last week. My gun culture story for Vox is pretty much done. All the drafts and revisions are finished, and it just needs to go through the fact-checking process (which is done by the editors at Vox, unlike at the Missourian), and then I believe it’s going up online. I’m definitely starting to get my traditional “deadline anxiety” but on the whole, I’m pretty happy to finish it up and see my work get published.

I definitely learned a lot from this story. It broke me back into reporting after a summer where it was pretty far in the back of my mind. It got me way outside my comfort zone. While I still have a long way to go in this area, it started teaching me how to really observe while I’m reporting so I can write detail and scene.

And with the end of this story comes the beginning of the next one. My assignment: profile someone with a good story for my intermediate writing class. My story: Profiling the principal of Columbia’s Catholic high school as a way to get at what the first year of the school has been like.

I’m excited about this story for a couple of reasons. 1) It means I get to write about education again, which is something I really love. 2) Since it’s a faith-based school, I’ve gotten to explore some of that aspect as well, which is also something I really love. 3) It’s been a while since I’ve tried my hand at profiling, and it might be the first one I’m aiming for publication. 4) I just kind of like the story.

I’ve spent most of this week getting started — doing initial interviews, trying to get my head around what the story needs to look like, wondering how I’m going to write it. My intermediate writing teacher is asking us to shoot for a more narrative form, so I know I’m going to be challenged to grow a lot in my ability as a writer. I’ve been told by multiple people that I can focus on improving my description, scene writing and story telling. Not that I’m a horrible writer or anything, but I know that these are areas I can work on.

So far, some things have gone really well with the story. For the most part, people have been pretty willing to talk to me, and I’ve enjoyed getting the chance to really dig into some reporting. I’ve also been quite pleased with my interviews so far. I’ve struggled at times with feeling rather awkward in interviews, and there have been times when I’ve felt like my questions could have been much more concise. But with the last couple of people I’ve talked to, I’ve felt a lot more natural in my ability to ask good questions, in feeling like I know where the conversation needs to go, like I’m formulating good follow up questions.

There have been some hard parts, though. In general, I’ve been struggling a lot with fear this semester, and its been really showing up in my ability to make myself do stuff. There’s been a lot of nervousness, a lot of not moving as fast as I could be moving because my nerves stop me. Honestly, it’s been quite frustrating, and fortunately, I’m getting to the point where I can just suck it up and do what I need to do.

I feel like my nerves have been setting in a lot recently, though. As I’ve been getting closer to publishing my gun culture story and as I’ve solidified plans to possibly publish my profile, there’s been a large knot forming in my stomach that has hung around for the last few days. I’m not particularly happy about it, and I’ve definitely let it slow me down more than I should have. But I suppose the reoccurrence of nerves and frustration have also yielded some positives this time around. I’m finding myself much more able to talk myself through those emotions than I might have been in the past. I wouldn’t say they’ve gotten better, which frustrates me, but I would say I at least am learning what to do with them, which is encouraging.

This weekend, I’m going to get started with writing to get a draft in on Monday. I’m kind of nervous it won’t be very good, but I suppose that’s what first drafts are for. If no one needed to revise, they wouldn’t be called first drafts. After that, I’ll be doing even more reporting before passing it off to the Missourian for continual work, and hopefully eventual publication.

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