My first article for the Houston Chronicle – paid article, that is, versus the blogging I’ve done for them for six years – appeared online today and will be in tomorrow’s print version. I was excited for it to be published but then I read it and hated it. Well, right away I wasn’t happy with the edits to the first two paragraphs, but that’s par for the course. Also, I’ve been writing for magazines all year and I’ve forgotten how short paragraphs are in newspaper writing, so some of it read a little disjointed.
But mostly I just hate it. Because I hate my writing. And over the last couple of months I’ve really messed myself up by having taken on so much work and then being late with it and I just haven’t given myself enough time to edit and edit and edit and revise and revise and edit like I would normally do. If I don’t do that endless editing – I mean literally I could put hours into just re-writing – I feel like my work is seriously sub-par. So I just don’t read what I’ve written. Once it’s published it’s too late for any changes, and I’m always afraid I’ll read something that I could have easily corrected.
Lessons learned: Sometimes I just have to say no, as much as I don’t want to. I always have to maintain deadlines, especially if I have more than one article going at a time. Tomorrow morning I’m finishing an article and then just one left of that mess of five pieces I was doing at the same time. I’m not sure I’ll know what to do with myself! No seriously, what I will do is turn my attention to school. Things are kind of unstructured this semester, since I just have a rough idea of what my final manuscript will be about, but next up is reporting on the witches. I informally pitched an idea to the Chronicle editor of writing about witches around Halloween time. She liked the idea and asked me to send her a formal pitch which she may forward to another editor. So…as I did with the Mormons, I hope to be reporting on the witches and then writing about them professionally and then moving onto the next group, which I believe will be the Unificationists (AKA Moonies). It will be wonderful to be free to be a student – like I was last time I was getting a masters degree – wandering the city looking for stories, developing relationships with interesting groups of people, looking for stories, and writing about them.
And it will be even better when I have time to re-write a kajillion times and I can really like what I’ve written. I definitely learned a lesson over the last few months. I’m looking forward to the rest of this semester.