This is the second installment of an entry I made to my private blog from March 17, 2005, about the first article I ever wrote for publication.:
I submitted the completed first draft article about Chopper Works Inc. to Iron Horse magazine. Jeff, the editor, said the article was boring and read like a manual. That was pretty much the tip of the iceberg. There was no hook, it had structure problems, a lack of dialogue and missing information. I knew it might need some work, but I didn’t realize it was that bad. When I re-read it with a more critical eye, I agreed with Jeff.
I stared at that article for a long time. I then tossed the entire thing. I took out my notes and interview tapes and started over. When I was done, I re-wrote it again. I went through it over and over and polished it as much as I was able. I felt better about the article this time, but I wasn’t sure if it would be good enough for Jeff. I worried that I may have overlooked something critical. But, with a deadline looming, I sent it to him.
Having a photo-journalism degree, Jeff didn’t like my pictures either. Luckily, the owners of Chopper Works Inc. had a CD with professionally photographed bike pictures on it. They burned me a copy and I FedEx’d it to Jeff.
The article is now in its final edits. As this is my first attempt at writing an article for publication, and knowing that it will be read by a wide audience, has been a real head game for me. I always wanted to be a published writer, but I never realized how tough the mental aspect of it would be.
Some hurdles I needed to cross was to write a story that is interesting, well structured and formatted correctly. The biggest hurdle though, is the psycho soap opera that takes place inside my head. I’m stunned by all the irrational fears that crop up. I have to fight hard to overcome them.
I know the fears are irrational, but I still let them influence my life. I wanted to back out of this assignment when I had to do my first interview. I wanted to quit when Jeff kept hounding me to see the article – which I knew wasn’t going well. I really wanted to quit when he read my first draft and tore it apart. I wanted to quit when I had to do follow up interviews to fill in gaps and dig up new info.
You know what – these fears are just dumb (but I still have them). The interviews went really well. The brothers that run the bike business are open and friendly. The senior editor, Jeff, has 15 years of experience and has interviewed over 1,000 celebrities and notables. He can be harsh, but very fair. Considering I had no writing clips to show him when I started, Jeff has taken this newbie to article writing under his wing and is giving me a HUGE chance. He takes the time out of his busy schedule to provide me with guidance and to show me what I need to do. I can’t begin tell you how much appreciate this.
The fear of my responsibility to the article and to the editor still makes me want to run away from it. However, I made a promise that I would not let him down. I hate when promises are broken, and I REALLY hate to break a promise I make to someone. This fear/hatred of disappointing someone I made a promise to is more powerful than the fear I have of being responsible for the article. So, I push through the fear.
I couldn’t blame Jeff if he never has me write another article for him again. However, if he does, I will be timelier with my submissions and do a better job with the first draft. Moreover, with this experience under my belt, I’m sure the fears will have a duller edge the next time around.