Sometimes you have to do things that make you feel uncomfortable when you make decisions to take your writing to a different level.
For me this involved a recent foray into journalism.
I normally adopt an “I’ll-leave-your-opinons-alone-if-you’ll-leave-mine-alone” stance when it comes to politics. I’m honestly very middle of the road. My philosophy is very much like Neil Gaiman’s: “If there was a party whose main platform was being nice to people, freedom of speech and supporting libraries I’d sign up for it.” I don’t get into virtual, all-caps-on, shouting matches on Twitter or Facebook over politics. I just don’t think that it does much good. I may occasionally repost a meme about teachers getting the fuzzy end of the lollipop or internet privacy or censorship. Those are my pet peeves, but I don’t do it very often.
But when an opportunity of a lifetime emerges, a chance to also test myself as a writer…well some things are just too good to pass up.
I almost enrolled in journalism school ages ago…years before the major life change I made two years ago to go back to school at forty-something to get my Masters in English Literature. But life happened…I got a full-time job, got married, and didn’t do journalism school. So, recently, when the guys at The Sandbox news asked me to write some articles (book reviews were discussed at the time) I said I’d do it. Partly because my writing has been in an idle place and I’ve been looking for some way to rev it up a notch, but mainly because I always wanted to write for the school newspaper, and when I first started at SPC, they didn’t have one.
Then…an amazing thing happened. Just a few days later we received the news that President Barack Obama was coming to deliver a Grassroots speech at our campus in Seminole. And I was asked to go along with the other reporters and cover it. Me! See a president of the US give a speech! I was overwhelmed and more than just a little bit scared. I don’t do politics, remember.
After I calmed down, I reasoned that a chance like this doesn’t come along very often and it was not just an opportunity to see a US president make a live speech, it was also an chance for me to write a journalistic piece…write it to the best of my ability, all the while trying not to air my own political views. It was, not to put too fine a point on it, a challenge…and there’s nothing I like more than a writing challenge. We writers need to challenge ourselves, and sometimes that means stepping outside of our comfort zone and writing about things we’d normally steer well away from.
So I wrote this…my very first experience with writing for the mass media. I hope you enjoy it: The President Visits Seminole, Emphasizes Education.