Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Passion

(I'm taking a page from the delightful Miss Charming and warning you in advance. This is a long post, but hopefully explains this blog and it's recent changes.)

I was a history major in college. That's something I don't think many of you know. At an early age I was enthralled with anything and everything related to the past. Being in such close proximity to Philadelphia (two hours east of my location) and Washington, D.C. (two hours south) made frequent trips to museums the cherry on my summer sundaes. The thought that I had a connection to these people who did so much before me, just thrilled me to no end. It was almost like I could imagine them and actually feel their struggles or triumphs. History is still a major part of my life, even if I'm not working in the field. I devour historical fiction novels like mad.

The original plan was for me to become a teacher. That's what most history major's do. They teach. But not me. No. Instead I decided in my sophomore year to drop that part of my major and just be a straight history major. It was three summers working as a park instructor that cured me of the teaching itch, as I realized I love kids, just not enough to be confined in a small room with 20-30 of them for 8 hours a day. Not so much.

When I graduated, I had no idea what I wanted to do. Law school? Grad school? Go back for a different degree? Take classes to become a paralegal? I had no idea.

So I worked at Wal-Mart. My parents, needless to say, were less than thrilled that after 4 years of college and a huge mountain of debt, I was working at Wal-Mart.

I was only at Wal-Mart about 8 months before I found a "real" job (which, as it turns out, I suffered through for 6 loooong years). In the interim I picked up a second job at our local newspaper. Once or twice a week I worked as a clerk in the sports department, taking scores, typing in high school results and answering the telephone.

And I fell in love.

Never, in my four years of college, or high school for that matter, had I even considered entering the journalism business. I wasn't exactly the best paper writer. Oh, I got by just fine but I was always the student printing out the 25 page Local Govt. paper at 7:30 a.m. the day it was due after having been up all night writing it. That's just how I operate, my best work always came at the last minute.

After moving into proofing some stories a little bit, I realized I could do what our correspondents were doing. Sure I hadn't been to J-School but I was college educated and grasped the basic tenants of writing. I begged my editor at the time to send me out to cover something, anything. He was a little hesitant but eventually sent me off to cover a local high school soccer game. My instructions were to focus on one player mostly, but keep it simple. My first story, was, to say the least, very, very rough. It's sitting in my clips folder at home and whenever I want a good chuckle, I pull it out and read it. Lucky for me my editor and the copy editors were very patient and willing to teach as I went along.

It wasn't long before I added news clips to my folder. The head city editor put me in as an editorial assistant on Sundays, typing in bits and pieces of small stuff as it came in. Then I was made "obit writer", my primary beat being stories about people who had recently passed on. Believe it or not, I loved it. It was mixing my two favorite things, history and human interest, into one nice package. I also became the go to person in the newsroom when we were super busy (third string, if you will). There were a few occasions where I was sent out to cover something because a bigger news even happened and the main writers that day were otherwise occupied.

With my new confidence, I started applying for full-time writing jobs. I had a few interviews but not much more than that. It really started bringing me down. Especially since I kept applying for jobs at my own newspaper, and they kept rejecting me. One of the city editors told me I didn't have enough experience...despite having worked there for almost 5 years at that point. I became frustrated and very disillusioned about the whole thing, so I left the paper as I didn't see any other option available to me. It wasn't the easiest decision. I loved writing. I loved my co-workers (one of which is still my best friend in the whole wide world). I cried my last night because I didn't really want to leave.

I moved away from writing for awhile. It was the last thing I wanted to do. But it was needed, for my own sake.

Now that I've gotten over a few personal issues, I'm more than ever determined to start writing again about the one thing that gets my blood moving...sports. I've always loved sports so anything that I can do to combine the two is right up my alley. The idea for the change in this blog to a more sports oriented theme stems from that. And the fact that several people outside of the blogosphere, none of which should have ever seen this blog, told me they found it didn't help.

So here we are. A new direction. I'm excited and yes, I will be heavy on the O's, Duke basketball and Penn State Football (I'm a fan, sue me.). But I'll make sure to include other tidbits regarding sports that my interest. Because if nothing else, working in the journalism industry taught me to be fair and balanced...and not in a FOX News "fair and balanced" kind of way either.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

As you wish, my dear. But remember that a great many people care about you and wish you all the happiness that this world can offer.

greatexpectations said...

I found your blog through a totally random blog about wine ... and just wanted to tell you to hang in there. Rejection is just standard in writing business ... keep your head up and try again -- this time far, far, far away from that newspaper rag you mention. : )

We used to work together at that very place ... I only know this is your blog by the picture.

Keep writing!