I survived writing my column this month. Wow!
I had some anxiety because this marks the ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY of my first column!!
I never thought I’d last this long, honestly! I laughed when I got it, because the column is called “Common Sense.” I’m the creative writer type with her head in the clouds– not known for logic.
But a funny thing happened. I decided to become what was needed for this column– and THAT drove me to find my own common sense.
I’ll post when it’s up, of course– next week. But right now, I’m just beaming.
I got the job last August when I applied with the The Joliet Herald News– with links from this very blog. It’s actually my eleventh column– we skipped December for some reason. Who knows what will inspire #12?
And my first column ran in September. It’s symmetrical that my first was political, and so is this one. Yet they are vastly different in tone in style. I didn’t quote anyone else in this one– just myself. And that makes me feel strong, that I have enough to stand alone. I even am about 20 words UNDER my word count this time, which is awesome too. My word economy has gotten better. I can be more succinct now.
I really wrestled with this one. It ended up being a complete 180 degrees from what I had planned to write. Both were political topics– by the original was inflammatory and divisive– and this is inclusive.
When I got stuck, I tried different things than I had previously. I took a walk. I wrote about my feelings, separate from the column topic. I called and talked to a few trusted friends who have become my first audience and love to give me feedback. Those conversations refreshed me, and finally I struck gold.
There were so many times I felt insecure and was tempted to quit and give the column up, because balancing it with this blog has been a hard transition and choosing topics stresses me out. I don’t imagine the other columnists spend this much time fretting over theirs! But I’m just getting back in the game after a sabbatical.
And I’ve begun to blog much less– but I didn’t quit the column. That’s the win. I have’t shut down this blog either, which I also find surprising. I still haven’t assigned it an “identity” yet, other than to decide this blog is for me, not something I will stress about.
The most difficult challenge in writing these 500 word columns is to narrow down what start out as broad topic ideas into something meaningful and specific. Boy, my high school English teacher would have a good laugh if she knew about this! I used to write three page papers with a three page tangent– when the assignment only called for TWO pages.
One of my best friends in high school had nicknamed me “Pierre,” because she said that surely a “French gay man,” inspired my florid writings. You’d never seen so much purple prose and adverbs. I had a lot of words, but no idea what I wanted to say.
This is year I learned to find my VOICE, and write through the uncertainty. And I didn’t give up. Hey, I’m not a quitter!
I’m glad for the journey I’ve undertaken through this column in the name of journalism. I’ve written about politics, pop culture, human relationships, and the memory of a departed friend.
It’s just a humble column in a mid-size newspaper. But it’s the world to me.