Considering I only had three days of classes, this week was a rough one. Perhaps it was because the week was shortened that everything seemed a little bit more pressed, a little bit (okay, a lot more) overwhelming.
Let’s break down the past week:
I finally submitted the final edit of my first profile story about Giggles Thrift Shop. I was happy to have it completed without all the holes that it had originally started with. But even with that accomplishment out of the way, I had two more story pitches due by the next evening. I had been making phone calls and driving around northeast Columbia with every spare moment I had, but my efforts yielded little reward. By Sunday evening, I only had one half-baked idea of covering a local early childhood education center. All the ideas I had come up with during the week were falling through, either due to lack of information or no response from the potential subject or that the topic was already covered in the Missourian. I wasn’t enjoying my long weekend, that was for sure.
After a long discussion with my mother, I had a renewed energy about how to approach finding a subject on Monday. Considering it was Labor Day, my options were limited. I ended up stumbling upon a Facebook page for a local horse trainer, found a personal phone number and was ecstatic when he picked up on the second ring. My hopes increased further when he mentioned that he is currently training a young girl to compete with the US Side Saddle Team and would be travelling to South Africa for the World Cup in December. After we hung up, I sent in my pitches and was hopeful for the next week’s progress.
Two major things happened at the weekly beat meeting that turned my week around, both in different ways. I found out that my first profile would be published the following week, and though I want to see my work in print as soon as possible, I’m also anxious about my first long form piece of writing being shared with the public. The second thing was that the horse trainer story didn’t go through, so I was approved for the pre-school center instead. I set up a time to meet with the director the next day and was set to attend their annual Back to School Night. I was definitely disappointed, but I was set to make the best of it and try to find an interesting spin on the story.
This was perhaps the most frustrating day. Basically, I realized halfway through my interview the pre-school center director that I, in fact, did not have a story with the issue. Maybe it was our time constraints, or the way I asked my questions, or the framing of the interview, but I knew that I wouldn’t be able to write a feature story about the center. After going to the evening event, I was lost about what to do. The only upside to my day was that I had an hour to walk around downtown and found a couple leads in story subjects for my upcoming weeks covering the Central City.
I met with Jeanne to tell her about my dilemma. We spoke about how we could try to pull a story out of it, but in the end, she proposed a couple more ideas for me to develop on my own. She also told me that after mentioning the idea during the afternoon budget meeting, the newsroom editors were eager to return to the topic (as it had been discussed briefly during the passing of a 2010 city ordinance). I did some research and tried to contact the story subject. More messages left. More unreturned calls.
This marked the first day of my second consecutive three-day weekend, as my Friday morning art class was cancelled for the week. I took the few hours I had before work to go to the Daniel Boone Regional Library. It was a place I have been countless times, but this time I was there to observe and try to find resources for stories. I found a couple, thanks to a very helpful PR person and a bunch of community publications. Still, more phone calls and emails and waiting to hear back.
This is basically where I am right now. As I look into the next week, it looks like I will be juggling two-three stories for the Missourian. I know it’s going to be a lot of work, and I know I’m going to face a lot more frustration in that time. I also know that, especially after the last week, I need to kick it into high gear and try to make things out as best as I can. All I can do is try to go out and reach out as much as I can, and hope that someone will respond to my efforts. Even with the roadblocks of the past week, I’ve also had a great amount of support from friends, family and the individuals I have contacted and spoken with who have been receptive to help me share their stories. It’s those moments that I’ll have to keep in mind as I enter the next week.