This afternoon I submitted my column to my editor about why I returned to facebook– and I feel good.
(Pssst: I’m back! The column runs Thursday, so now I feel more comfortable breaking the story here. But the details are not for this post.)
I needed an extension, because choosing an angle about a decision which had such influence on my life was quite a task. It’s a very broad topic, and one that was very personal as well. I wasn’t sure what tone was appropriate, but my editor suggested one that surprised me: humor.
“You could really have fun with this column!” she said.
I had never thought about the possibility of having FUN while writing my column.
The others I had written before had been isolated based on one topic, in the features variety: pop culture, a narrative experience, answering a fun question.
But this column is on-going, with a news focus. Writing in that voice isn’t natural for me. My background is features. I’m an English minor.
Truthfully, I usually associate my column with stress! Because it only runs once a month, I choose my topics with care– and feel a lot of pressure to produce something “important.” Further, the column is called “Common Sense,” and I thought my obligation was to be serious in it. If you don’t believe me, just look at my mug shot!
I’m staring the camera down, getting into character. I wanted this mug shot to be different than the others I’d had. I think my first one was in college, as a features reporter for my campus newspaper. With no advance notice, I was photographed as I came to work that day–between classes. My hair was in two hasty buns high on my head– to hide a bad hair day. I was wearing a baby-t and a hoodie, and a huge smile.
Every subsequent picture was a variation of that– but with better hair and more stylish clothes. They were good pictures, but I looked more like I was posing for a candid at a party.
With this column, I wanted to look professional. And it worked. I’m proud of the work I’ve done.
But my editor reminded me that I can be professional and have fun, too.
That’s why this column has become stressful for me, even though I love writing it. I realized that the columns I’d produced thus far, except for one, hadn’t included any of my natural voice. Rather, it was like I was playing a role– and thus felt forced at times.
This time, I decided to be myself.
I wrote a narrative lead, referencing pop culture. I made a few jokes. I had– GASP!!– fun.
And then I got to the point, and told the story. I found a balance. And it worked.
My editor complimented the final version, and I felt like I got away with something!
I had mulled over several angles and points for discussion, and discussed them with friends. At first I kept exceeding my word count by almost 200 words.
And then I just decided to stop trying, and write what I know.
And it worked.
Even better, I get to post it on Facebook again!