Humble Pie

I want to have an honest moment. My gut tells me that I’m not alone in feeling the way I do. I was recently published in a pretty legit publication. Like this should be one of my proudest accomplishments to date. I worked for a month on this story. I’m pretty sure I earned some gray hairs for this article. I used every tool in my belt. I couldn’t wait to see my hard work (picture included) in this feature. When I got the proof however I was heartbroken.

The story that I wrote didn’t resemble the story that was published. I compared the two and while it was clearly the article I wrote, it had clearly gotten chopped up and sewn back together.

There is at length an amount of humble pie that a journalist must ingest into order to stay in the field. I’m no fool. I do not think that I (at 22 years of age) am in any way shape or form so epically amazing at writing that my work doesn’t need editing (I’m pretty sure as you read this and see errors and cringe you get my point).

When it comes to taking a critique I have a little bit of experience from some design classes I’ve taken at my college. I really feel like having to participate in critiques while in these classes will aid me in the future. The first one I ever had to go through my professor looked us all in the eyes and said “Leave your ego at the door”. The first one was the toughest. I considered myself an honest person, but who really wants to hear the nit picky problems about their work? People who one day want to be professionals, that’s who. From then on I gave my all and some people gave it right back to me.

So while I am person that can take a criticism (unless you are this one friend of mine, then no, I don’t want to hear your opinion) i just couldn’t understand this. While the publisher and editor have no need to tell some lowly undergrad student why they did what they did I feel like I can’t learn from my errors when I don’t know what I did wrong. So while friends and family alike were cheering for me, I sat in bewilderment wondering if this means that I will never be taken seriously as a journalist because of this.

I welcome any advice on this matter. Part of me feels like this is simply the screening process of the field. Other times I wonder if this is my smoke alarm trying to warn me of the impending fire.

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One thought on “Humble Pie

  1. Carli,
    ‘Tis the nature of the business. Every writer is different, just as every editor/publisher is different. They all have their own opinions about how they would put a story together. Not everyone will understand your technique but there will be those who do. I’ve worked hard on a story before, been proud of the finished result only to have some editor rearrange it in a way that works for them. I’ve been loathe to put my name on those pieces, so I know how you feel. You will find some critiques of your work helpful – study those changes and try to understand why they were changed. Perhaps email the editor and ask for him/her to explain why they changed what they did so that you can better understand their reasoning. Sometimes their changes may go further than just fixing grammar and sentence structure – sometimes it’s political to a particular area, which is something you would not have known about unless you were a part of their staff. Some critiques you will need to take with a grain of salt. A writer can always improve upon his/her writing but without losing the writer he or she is. Stay true to yourself and your form.

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