Today was my first day at the paper. Ah, they were happy to see me. I could tell because assistant city editor Beth smiled and said, "Amy, we're happy to see you."
They sent me off to the Madison Boat Show for a story. So I talked to boat show attendees about how the economy will affect their decision to buy a boat or use the boat they already have.
I came back, and old-timer and Madison icon George Hesselberg said, "Knapp, you're back already?"
I felt a little overwhelmed.
I asked George how to turn on the computer.
After some fumbling with unfamiliar software, I got my name and half a sentence written. Then the night editor came over to my desk, which was actually his desk. Nothing like displacing your editor. Anyway, he handed me a photo and said that was the pic to go with the story I was writing. I had to write the cutline. The photographer had already written one, but I had to make it my own, he said.
"We really want you to take ownership of the story, and that includes writing the cutline."
God. An unexpected pressure.
He went on about making the photo, headline, cutline and lead one package that gets the readers to read the whole story.
It's weird for me to write in a huge room with people all around me doing amazing work.
I wanted my first story to be good, but it felt a little cheesy. Writing it made me realize all the details I didn't write down. I had plenty of quotes, but not much about the environment.
Anyway, I finished, then Ken, the night city editor and cutline requirer, said he'd look it over. I should "take a breather."
He made some changes, suggested some changes, and asked for more changes. I thought his changes and suggestions were good ones. So I went back. The cutline I wrote was not what he had in mind. The one he had in mind didn't really fit my story, so that whole package idea was out the window. But it got done. He sent it off to wherever stories get sent after desk editors are sufficiently satisfied.
Then he said, "This story will be the centerpiece for tomorrow's local section."
Holy crap. Then I really, really wished I had done better on it.
I'm glad my first day is over. I was so nervous. I sat in my class earlier in the day just about ready to hurl. I think you could see my belly shaking in these nasty, quaking, bubbling, turbulent waves from across the room.
Anyway, deep breath. Inhale, exhale.
When I worked at The Clarion, my adviser made me stop using big, book-learnin' words. It appears at the WSJ (not that one) I'll be able to resurrect some of my fading vocabulary.
Tomorrow I sleep in a cave.