One word after the other….

“One word after the other….”

That’s not my quote. I never would have come up with that one. During my last semester at CCSU I took opinion writing with James Herbert Smith. He was an adjunct at the time. He’s been everywhere and worked everywhere. It was an amazing class and I learned and wrote a lot. It was fun.

Jim would say that line probably 50 times a class. He repeated it to exhaustion, at times. Before long, I knew when he was going to say it before he did.

It didn’t matter what we work talking about. Jim would come back to that line without fail. Until I started working in January, that line never really hit me. During class, it got old really quick, but now it has a whole new meaning.

Each day, I come in and type. Sometimes they are good stories and sometimes they just plain suck. It’s all about attention to detail and reading and rereading what you have. Like Jim said, it’s one word after the other.

Think of a journalist as a pottery maker using a spin wheel. The spin wheel is their computer but, like a pottery maker, the journalist uses their hands to “craft” words instead of clay bowls, pots, goblets, etc. It takes careful consideration and a certain composure to turn quotes and information into a story. Length doesn’t matter at this point. And just like a pottery maker, the journalist doesn’t get it right the first time. He or she has to work at their “craft” or “story” over and over again. They want to make it just right.

Like a pottery wheel you can manipulate, change and redo everything in front of you. I’ve never used a pottery wheel, but I imagine it’s a ton of fun and rather difficult, but you know what I mean.  With your computer you can try as many different words as you want. Some stories may takes longer than others, but that’s the way it is. When I’m stuck I just say a word out loud and ask everyone around me to help me out. It hardly ever works, though.

Jim was right the whole time. I used to take it for granted. It’s so essential for a journo, or any writer for that matter, to put words together in a way that we all can understand. I do it without thinking now.

I forget that each story is just one word after the other.

Maybe we all should think about that more often?

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2 Responses to One word after the other….

  1. Pingback: my problem with features « Just Starting Out

  2. Pingback: Where’s the Passion? « Just Starting Out

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