There was so much red ink on the page that it looked like someone had been murdered. The editor continued to scratch out lines, draw arrows and scrawl hasty notes in the margins. I cringed, watching my dreams bleed all over the page with each stroke of the pen. It was painful. It was brutal. It was the best thing that ever happened to my career.
The fact that I’d even reached this stage was incredible. I had walked into the lobby of our area’s largest newspaper and, armed with nothing but stupid courage and a thin portfolio, demanded an audience with the editor-in-chief. I was just 17 years old.
Sure, my writing experience was limited to a few months at the school paper and self-publishing a novel a few years before. Sure, I’d never really looked at an AP Style Guide before. Sure, I really had no idea what I was doing. I was overwhelmed, underprepared and determined to succeed – and that made all the difference.
Looking back, I don’t envy that 17-year-old version of myself. I can’t remember exactly what was going through my head on that day but I do remember being nervous – very nervous. I was nervous standing in the lobby and even more nervous when I sat at the editor’s desk, presented my portfolio and boldly – and successfully! – made my case.
I was so grateful for the opportunity. For the next few weeks after that first meeting, I had worked so hard on that draft. I had overcome my fear of talking on the phone and interviewed countless sources. I called state representatives and business owners. I had worked extensively and slept little. I had poured all of my hope and effort into the project.
Mercifully, the editor recognized my effort and my amateur mistakes. He sent me home with some advice, my draft and a choice to make – would I let this criticism kill my ambition or strengthen it? Would I have the courage to return to that office? Could I face that editor again? Was I willing to try?
It was difficult. It was overwhelming.
It was worth it.
On June 2nd, my article was published on the front page with a huge, full-color image. It was amazing! The excitement of seeing my name on the byline was such a thrill. And it happened again just six days later – another article, another byline, another front page.
The moral of the story is that I thought it was impossible and I did it anyway – and that’s a lesson that I need to remember today and tomorrow and the next day.
Tomorrow I will undergo my fifth Cesarean section. Like my 17-year-old wanna-be-journalist self, I feel completely overwhelmed and underprepared. From the prep to the recovery, I know that there is a lot of pain in my near future. It will be difficult. It will be overwhelming. And it will be so, so worth it.
And even though it seems impossible today, I will find my way through.
“If ye have faith… nothing shall be impossible unto you.”