Category Archives: Writing Life

Week Four As An Intern: Memorial Day Rest, Grey’s Anatomy Speculation, Phone Calls, Feature

On Monday, Memorial Day, I got my first weekday break from the newsroom.  It was much-needed since I had put enough time into calling every town in two of the local counties asking for information on their Memorial Day Celebrations so that I could compile a list of towns and their celebration–along with the other intern–for the news paper.  It was time-consuming, but we got it done a week before memorial day.

Except for the fact that my friends and I discovered a new park in the county we live in, my entire Memorial Day weekend was spent watching reruns of Grey’s Anatomy, and I got up to episode 126–the end of Season 6.  Just enough to get caught up on the drama of Season Seven.  Later on into the week, I would learn that there are rumors that two of the main actors of the show are threatening to leave if the show doesn’t get better and that Season 8 may be the last season of the show.  But that may all just be cyber gossip.  I have no time to think about that now.

When I returned to work that week, I got an assignment.  I had to call people who participated in a poll about partisanship in New Jersey and ask them what they think about the democratic and republican parties.  Most people either were not home or did not want to allow their political opinions to be published in the newspaper, or were just plain rude and yelled at me for calling them.  Most of the people who did answer said that they were skeptical of both parties, or that the two parties have to work out their differences and start working together.  I only got one angry response from a man who thought all illegal immigrants were from Mexico and that they should go back there.  He also said that the democrats were communists and President Obama is giving too much money to illegal immigrants.

I was also given another job that week.  I had to call the sheriff offices of two counties to ask if there was a shortage of ammunition in these counties because of the reports that many places across the country were facing a shortage of ammunition because of the conflicts in the Middle East.  It turned out the none of our local police departments were facing ammunition shortages.

I also got another assignment that week.  A feature!  A real feature!  No press release, just a story that I can only write by interviewing people.  The story is about a Tae-Kwon Do school for special needs children.

I was excited about this story.  The only thing that hindered my joy was that I could not go to the place and interview the people in person because as an intern I am not allowed should something happen to me.   How can I write a feature if I am not there to see what’s going on–if I’m not there to record the sights, smells, and other observations of the place, atmosphere and mood?

P.S. “The Editor” has not lectured us for about two weeks; it’s scary.  The other intern has gone to South America for a class trip; she’ll be back on my last day.  I have no one to talk to on my lunch break now.  Another intern has arrived and I do not know his name.  I have not introduced myself.  I’ll call him Intern # 3.

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Week Three: Press Release Monotony and Calling the Governor’s Office

Week Three.  We wanted to write;  we got to write, or should I say rewrite press releases. Maybe not exactly rewrite, but it felt like it.  My job for the week was to write two previews about events I had heard about from press releases.  One event was called Bio-Blitz, an annual program in which scientists, naturalists, amateur naturalists, and the public gathered together at one of the county’s park to take a survey of the biodiversity around the urban and suburban areas of New Jersey.  The other event was about the Sourland Music Festival, held near the Sourland Mountains of New Jersey.

Both events sounded picturesque so you could imagine how frustrated I was that instead of going to these places and taking notes on the natural beauties of New Jersey that most people are completely oblivious to, I was confined at a desk, on a chair, next to a computer–interviewing people and hoping that I could give my article a taste of the places without being there in person.  Instead of being pretentious, I opted to use a slightly newsy approach to the story with just a little hint of creativity.  Since I have never been to the Sourlands, I thought it would be fair to start the story on this note, “The Sourland Mountains will soon be alive with the sound of jazz and bluegrass….”  This was a big improvement from my lede about the Bio-Blitz event which was a straightforward, “On this date, Union County, which boasts the fifth oldest park system in the nation will host its 8th annual Bio-Blitz event.”

I did my interviews, got quotes from people who were looking forward to seeing their events broadcast in the newspaper.  Imagine how embarrassing it was when they asked me when the article would get published and all I could say was I didn’t know because it is all up to “The Editor” who had barely said a word since “The Revolution” took place.  In spite of that, the people gave good information and provided even more useful quotes.

The other intern and I also got a taste of writing breaking news.  While we were busy writing our stories, we were interrupted by an announcement from the calm-looking editor and “The Editor” about a protest outside a building.  We were told to cover the story.  The protest involved about 12 dozen state workers, which were just a fraction of the many state workers that had gathered to protest at many places across the state.  They were demanding that Governor Chris Christie legitimize their right to negotiate their contracts and to meet with him.

I was excited because it was my first opportunity to use my voice recorder.  I talked to three women about their reason for protesting and all of them agreed that they wanted the governor to listen to them.  I felt even extra important when the other intern and I were preparing the story and I suggested that we had to get the governor’s side of the story.  I got to call the governor’s office that day and that was the coolest thing that I had done since the internship began.  It would have been even cooler if the governor had called me back before our 5:00 deadline.  But we got our quotes and we got our story.

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Week Two as an Intern: New Knowledge about the Grey’s Anatomy Cast; A Revolution, and Regret

By week two I was tired.  The quizzes were not helping me learn what I wanted to learn.  During our lunch breaks, the other intern and I began to complain about this and to secretly planned a revolution that would eventually change the way the internship was going.  I was slightly frustrated, and on top of that I was a bit stressed because I had found out something about two of the actors on Grey’s Anatomy.  One purpose the show served for me was to help me to unwind.  But I could not relax when I found out that two of the actors had a fight and one of the actors made gay slurs to the other.

For the past week that I was off from school, interning and Grey’s Anatomy were my life.  I could not look at the show the same way again learning that two of the actors were in conflict.  This had me losing sleep and waking up tired and unmotivated to wake up in the morning, though I was quite eager to head to the newsroom and listen to “The Editor’s” lectures about his career as a journalist and what he wanted us to learn.

When I went home at the end of my shift, I spent my nights watching You Tube videos of the cast and individual actors of Grey’s Anatomy on various talk shows.  I was happy to hear most of the actors saying things such as they like each other, and that they are pretty close.  Most of the actors who won awards thanked cast members.  I was thrilled to watch a video of Sandra Oh winning a Golden Globes and thanking her coworkers, and Shonda Rhimes, the creator of the show.

With this new knowledge that all was okay, I returned to letting Grey’s Anatomy consume my life when I was not in the newsroom.  And the revolution the other intern and I planned was boiling.  I told her that it was time to face “The Editor.”  We had to tell him that we want to learn Journalism.  We want to interview, write, and edit–not take quizzes on historical figures that we have never heard about.  Don’t get me wrong, I understood what “The Editor” was doing.  I understand the importance of history, and the fact that journalists “have to know a lot about a lot–not a little about a lot,” as “The Editor” would say.  But I felt like he was going about it the wrong way.  We were not retaining anything about those people we had written the 100 word essays on and we probably would not hear about half of them outside of the newsroom.

I thought of things that I would say to “The Editor” as the other intern said she would support me.  But it turned out that it was “The Editor” who initiated the conversation.  Somehow he had sensed that we were not gaining a lot from the quizzes.  He asked us what we would rather be doing and we told him that we wanted to write stories.  We were surprised at how flexible he was because he comes across as a stern person, even he realizes that.

As we continued to talk, “The Editor” began to seem passive aggressive rather than sincere.  He said, “since you guys want to do things your way, I’ll let you do things your way.”  He also compared our behavior to a person who watches a movie and want to leave the theater because the beginning of the movie seems boring and hard to follow.  He said that the movie eventually gets better but we would not be able to enjoy it because we did not watch it all the way through.

He told us for  our first story, we could write profiles, and if they were good, he’ll publish them.  My story was about an organization called FISH, which provides food and clothing to low-income families.  After that, he kept giving us more stories.  However, we did not know if or when they’ll get publish, which was a bit difficult because the people we interviewed called us to see when their stories would get in the paper.

“The Editor” also stopped lecturing us, and it seemed like he stopped talking to us.  He only handed us stories to write–making no eye contact–and responded indifferently when we greeted him or told him good-bye.  He wrote a column titled “Interns Should Be Careful What they Wish For.”  This was not the first column he wrote that included us.  He had written two before, both ranting about how our performance on the quizzes demonstrated the lack of knowledge of young people today.  No one told me public humiliation would be part of the job description as an intern for a newsroom.

We had what we wanted, but we needed to fix our relationship with “The Editor,” who I respect and appreciate for teaching us but disagreed with his teaching style.  I need instruction from him, and I feel like I should have continued watching the bad movie; maybe…just maybe it could have gotten a whole lot better.

Will our relationship with the editor improve?  Only time will tell.

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Am I Blogging Into the Void?

For most of my life, before I even learned the fundamental principles of writing, I had this romantic desire to be a writer.  I don’t know why the craft of writing has been so appealing to me.  Maybe it is because I am an independent thinker and work  best by myself.  Maybe it is because I know that writing is something that I can do and that if I work hard and practice enough, I could write well.  Maybe it is because I am self-driven.  I don’t know.

I say writing is a romantic desire because, often I think that it is only something that could be imagined or dreamed about.  Something that only a few exceptional people could master.  Not me.  And the way I approach writing is usually whimsical.  I may have an idea in my head one moment and the next I’ll be convinced that I’m ought to write a novel about it.  Of course, my novels do not go any further than a rough chapter, if even that…because I’m always so overwhelmed about beginning the necessary research.  Consider that this blog started during Spring break when I was sitting around the house bored out of my head and decided to watch the movie Julie & Julia, which inspired me so much that I thought, why not start a blog again?

The movie was so inspirational that it called me to action.  It taught me that yes, I could be a writer.  All I have to do is start writing.  It also taught me that if I like writing I am already a writer. 

So calling myself a writer is a morale and confidence boost.  But is it only temporal?  Does it only keep me optimistic for a certain period and leave me feeling like a failure who is wasting time by having these romantic and whimsical notions when the inspiration has faded?

While, there are many benefits I see in blogging, primarily the opportunity it gives me to practice the craft of writing, many times it makes me feel disappointed by showing me how difficult the entire process of writing is.  The actually writing process is one thing, which most people can do.  However, what happens after something is written?  What if no one reads what you write? Could you still consider yourself a writer?  Are the words I write just going into the void?  If no one reads what I write does this mean that what I have to say doesn’t matter?          

I feel this way every time I check my dashboard and see that no one has left me a comment or have “liked” a post that I have written which to me, seemed to be good.  Of course my experience with blogging so far has not always been disappointing.  I was excited one day when I checked my stats and saw that I had 14 hits on my post titled “Atmosphere of a College Library.”  I told my little brother, who must have thought that I was a lunatic for jumping around the living room, that I felt like I had won the lottery.  I knew people had read the post because they had referred it to their friends on Facebook and Twitter.  That meant a world to me because before then, I had no indication that anyone even visited my blog site.

I thought from that time on, I would have no problem getting hits, however I was wrong.  Each day I check my dashboard, checking for comments, so far the only comment I have gotten is the one posted by me.  I crave conversation with other bloggers.  I crave validity that my work is in some way decent and that I am just not wasting my words into the “cyber void.”  However, like Julie in the movie, I wont give up. I’ll continue writing.  Although it seems like an overly ambitious goal, maybe someday I’ll be Freshly Pressed. But if that doesn’t happen, even simply receiving a comment from someone, anyone…will mean the world to me.

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