A long time ago in another time…sort of like an entirely different life…I was a newspaper person. I started working on my high school paper and I knew that this was IT. This was one career that I would like. Even as a teenager, I knew that my whatever job would have to be far from boring and far from tedious. I knew that I liked to talk…even though I had been told that I was shy since I was very young. Just lately, I have realized that I probably talked TOO much and people just hoped that I would suddenly be shy. I suppose it was more polite to say “you are shy” rather than “have you ever thought about shutting up”…evidently, I just liked my own voice.
Now, I think of voice in a entirely different manner. I think of voice as a means of expressing and revealing my personality and style. Voice is taking ownership of my writing…of taking personal responsibility for my viewpoints. When I graduated from college and began working at newspapers…I had not a clue about writing with voice. I had never even heard such an interpretation. I just knew that I better finish my story by the deadline or one of the editors would yell louder than humanly possible. That is when I lost any tiny bit of shyness that I possessed. I could certainly be as loud and opinionated as some guy. I just had to figure out how to be somewhat kind at the same time. Writing with voice…please! I just needed the facts and the figures and a couple of fancy words. That kind of writing wasn’t so exciting. I just couldn’t be me.
Me was an important commodity even then. So I transferred to the retail advertising department…where I thought the wilder, independent people worked. They did work there, but a few were almost close to normal. It was my kind of place. I still had deadlines, but people were laid back. “Ok, Ok! She’ll be down with the copy in 10 minutes or maybe thirty!”…so what if I worked until 11:00 at night many times. The ads looked good, didn’t they? I had over 100 accounts and I treated them like they were the most ingenious businesses in town. I was 22 years old…what did I know about business? Nothing.
Fortunately, I knew how to shop and what to buy. I found out quickly that I was competitive beyond belief. Competitive and opinionated. What a combination. So I put together an ad campaign for a popular young adult type store. They bought full pages. Yea! More money! This was fun. My ads were entered in a state contest for a newspaper association. What do you know…I won first place for ad campaigns….the biggest deal ever for me. That’s how my picture made the newspaper.
A picture in the paper, a plaque, a presentation at a dinner. I still have the paper and the plaque. Funny how a little recognition can give a person confidence. Now that I am a teacher, I know that recognizing teachers for even the smallest conquest is vitally important. It just doesn’t happen very much in public education. What a shame.
When I think of my seven year newspaper career, I remember how great I felt when I won that contest. I quit the newspaper business when our children were born. Those late hours are not particularly compatible with a good home environment. And besides, I wanted to be a mom. However, I carried from the newspaper a sense of accomplishment and confidence. Newspapers gave me the voice that I needed.