I realize this week’s post is a little late (OK, it kind of ended up in next week), but I wanted to wait a couple extra days so I could announce this:
My profile got published.
After about two months, more than 10 interviews, five drafts, conversations with multiple editors, writing and rewriting, staying up late, pacing around my house convincing myself everything was going to be OK, double checking commas, reading the final draft multiple times, finishing accuracy checks, and losing track of everything else I’ve done, the story went up on the Missourian website today.
I feel glorious.
And I am quite proud of what I’ve done.
I mentioned to my intermediate writing teacher in an email that I learned more from this story than I ever thought I could. I wasn’t kidding. In finishing this piece, I learned how to write for magazine, how that looks different than newspaper and how the two translate into each other, how to use elements of both in my writing, how to improve my interviewing skills, how to tell stories, how to work with different editors, and generally how to be a better reporter and writer.
One of the more recent lessons I’ve learned from this story showed up in the final editing process. I wrote a blog post last spring when I worked at the Missourian about anxiety. It’s something I wrestle with, especially when I’m reporting. The combination of high stress levels and needing to get everything right can sometimes set me off a bit (OK, a lot).
In my older post, I wrote about learning to manage my anxiety levels and how to use some of the positive sides of having something of a nervous temperament. Last semester, I had no idea what that looked like. Now, while I still have a long way to go, I’ve caught a glimpse.
There were parts of the week before publication that were hard: pacing around my house and making my roommates stare at me, talking myself through my tendency to constantly second guess myself, asking a couple of editing questions that I was afraid made me look way too worried, being afraid that I was betraying my fear and struggle to have confidence in my work.
But there were other parts of the week that were better, signs that maybe I’m figuring out what the balance needs to look like: asking the extra question, but accepting the answer instead of agonizing over it; pacing around my house, but being honest enough that my friends could help me chill out; worrying incessantly about all the “what ifs,” but being able to talk myself through them and realize I knew what I was doing; being complemented on my impressive attention to detail, which is one way of putting it.
I’m starting to see that I’m not such a bad fit for journalism. Do I need to work on keeping my anxiety in check and trusting myself more? Absolutely. 100 percent. But I’m starting to see that when I can manage my worries, they can serve a purpose — catching the extra comma that makes the story that much more accurate, making sure I am both factual and ethical in everything I do, structuring a story to be interesting and creative and true to what I know.
I’m not even close to having this down yet. But I’ve made a start. And to me, that’s pretty stinking cool.
When I look back on my semester, I can see that this has been a huge part of what I’ve been learning. From mid-August when I was afraid to pitch ideas because I was worried they would suck to finally looking back at a published story that I pitched and reported and wrote and published.
I am proud of what I’ve done — what I reported, what I wrote, and especially what I learned — which, all things considered, is a pretty big deal for me.
And I can believe that whatever adventure this journalism major takes me on next, I’ll be ready.