The Best Day of My Writing Life

was yesterday, without a doubt.

I had a blog up previously about it, but felt it was  bit vainglorious– so I deleted it. I felt that I need to cultivate humility, and being too happy might be inviting trouble. Because you never know what’s going to happen, especially in a news cycle. Heck, the key moment that convinced me to write my column didn’t happen until four days AFTER Reps. Brown and Byrum were banned from the House Floor!

Maybe I felt it was unwise to be too self-congratulatory, especially so soon. And that’s still my gut reaction. There could be backlash forthcoming. Not EVERYONE will be supportive of my ideas. And you don’t want to become arrogant, like so many journalists are. But what’s the harm in admitting I’m ecstatic about the results of my hard work?

Personally, I feel this is my strongest column since my first one. And that’s because my confidence is growing.

I’m no longer afraid to trust my gut and write what I want.  It’s part of being Thirtysomething.

And honestly, I don’t need everyone’s approval. I wanted to challenge people. I wanted to challenge myself. And I pulled it off. I really liked my topic this month– it’s something I hope people will remember and continue to talk about.

I wanted to see what would happen if I wrote a story– very matter of factly– about freedom of speech and the word “vagina.” Would it get approved? Would it be censored?? I wanted find out!

And to my delight, I wasn’t censored at all.

There were a few minor edits. But VERY few, probably the least I’ve had thus far. The took out the address of the church where we performed. I had ended a sentence with a preposition, and that was fixed by transposing the words. That was it.  My lead, my ending sentence were intact. Everything else, intact. The news facts and attributions were strong and untouched. I used the word “vagina” seven times, and not one was omitted!

THAT is a great feeling.

The less you’re edited, the stronger your writing. You learn what your editor wants–and become better at anticipating it and providing it.

I remember back when my editors had to point out the holes in my stories– an awkward lead, a lame angle,  needed attribution, too many quotes and not enough facts. Style errors. Or they’d tell me to make some more calls and fill flesh it out a bit, because it could use more coverage on one point or there were unanswered questions. That’s the reality of a daily newspaper, when you have to churn out so much information quickly– and you need to be constantly checking in to make sure you didn’t forget something or won’t be scooped by another paper.

But this is a monthly column and my editor now doesn’t do that. I choose my own topics, although I submit them for her approval. Whatever I hand it in, that’s it. She’s not going to tell me any of those things. I have to work a lot harder, actually– because she will print what I give her, save to clean it up for space, style or construction. I have to make sure that it’s DONE, because if there are any holes, it’s just going to make me look unprofessional and ignorant.

Not that she doesn’t read them closely, or misses anything. But she expects me to have the work done already, and to be confident. I like that added responsibility and finality.

And so far, she has complimented every column I’ve written. A few times, I got my last line changed or shaved off– probably to make more room for some ad. But this time, my ending was just as I wrote it.

I feel like I’m finally getting it!


One comment on “The Best Day of My Writing Life

  1. Journalism is hard work. I was a journalist for two years. People do not understand the difficulties involved in journalism, the behind the scenes toils, the late nights, the requests, the editing involved. I admire your tenacity to stick with it and overcome the many obstacles. Kudos!

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