Unlearning is hard…

I distinctly remember my first year in the newsroom. When I landed that job at our local newspaper, I had very little experience in news writing. I was an English Lit major and had just graduated. My article writing, at the time, had been limited to school newspapers, both in high school and in college. Being from a small town, I knew the opportunities to utilize my degree were limited. So, when I saw the advertisement for the position, I jumped on it, not seriously thinking I had a snowball’s chance.

To this day, I will always be grateful to the man who gave a young, driven, mom-of-two, a chance. I remember him telling me when he hired me, that while I didn’t have experience, he saw something in the writing samples I submitted with my application. And so, began learning journalism on the job.

Dear lord, that was painful. I would write an article. He would kick it back. I would add more, change things. He would kick it back. Sometimes, if we were on a tight deadline, he would just fix it. I would read it the next day, make note and make those changes in my next articles. Over and over and over. To say Kevin Kelly had the patience of Job would be an understatement.

But eventually, he had to fix fewer and fewer of my articles. While I was in and out of the news world over the next 10 years, I still heavily utilized those skills. If I wasn’t actually employed as a news writer, I was freelancing articles. And for two and half years, I had my own online news site and pumped out several articles almost daily.

For those of you who have been following this journey, I’ve been upfront about the struggles I’ve faced shifting to novel writing. I already wrote about the day I realized I was still writing like a news writer in the blog post “The 40,000 word news article”. That was seven months ago.

You don’t realize how ingrained something is until you try to do something different and I couldn’t have picked two more different paths. They are polar opposites. News writing is all about telling. Novel writing all about showing. News writing is hitting the highlights in as few words as possible. Novel writing is about immersing the reader in the entire experience. News writing is about leading with the important stuff and putting the less important stuff at the bottom, so it can easily be cut for space if needed. Novel writing is making sure the important stuff is sprinkled throughout to keep the reader turning the page.

And all of the above with news writing is so deeply ingrained now, I didn’t realize I was even doing it until that day. I found myself right back where I was that first year in the newsroom. Writing something. Having it kicked back. Writing again. Except this time, I’m doing it on my own. And where Kevin was patient, my inner editor is not. She’s actually quite mean. Scary even.

Even though I recognized all of this, I was still trying to walk that fence between what I’m comfortable doing and what I’m learning. It wasn’t working. Over the last few months, I made the decision to limit my writing to just my work in progress and an occasional creative Instagram post. I needed to focus on that one skill, while I relearned it. I slowly backed off of writing articles, blog posts, and book reviews. Even the author and poets posts took a back seat. (Sorry to all those waiting. I will get to you. But I needed to do this for me.)

I’m not just finding my voice as a creative writer. I am unlearning a decade’s worth of news writing.

And I’m almost there.

So, thank you to all who have been patient.

Good or bad, Reconstructing Evelyn is coming soon.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *