By Jordan Pridemore
It’s been quite a while since I’ve done this (written something to be read by someone other than a professor) and I feel like I’m a bit out of practice. Sure, I can slap a subject and predicate together without batting an eyelash or whip out an MLA formatted research paper in the wee hours of the morning; but this is different.
Even though it’s been a while, I think my hiatus was a necessity. I got a chance to step back and just read, just learn. Something I’ve learned in college (not explicitly, but in more of a between-the-lines kind of way) is that anyone can write. They can use fancy words and unique sentence structure that are fun to read; but that’s not what makes a good writer.
I learned this when a professor told me to stop hiding behind my clever word play. He said my paper was a blast to read, but he couldn’t figure out what I was actually saying. I felt like a kid who’d gotten caught cheating on a spelling test because I didn’t even know what I was saying.
And the reason I didn’t know what I was saying is that I wasn’t saying anything at all. I was used to that getting me by just fine. I’d never been called out on it. I’ve always appreciated craftiness and cleverness in writing and always found succinctness boring.
What matters more? What is being said or HOW it’s being said? Is there a happy medium?
That, again, is why it was so important for me to stop writing. I needed to figure out what I wanted to say. Looking back at some of my first columns, I cringe. But now I realize that it was me sharpening my tools so that when I’m ready, I can write something that matters in an effective way. Because that’s the ultimate goal, isn’t it? To write something that affects someone?
The difference between me writing now and me writing when I was 15 is this new apprehension that lingers over every word. I now have an understanding that I didn’t five years ago; that being that I will be held accountable for what I say (and there is very little in this world more silencing than accountability).
I’m still overwhelmed by the vastness of life and all its complexities. I still believe in being the best, most kind person I can be. So all in all, I suppose I haven’t changed much at all.
College has smoothed over some rough edges and created new ones at the same time. My skin is thicker, my mind more critical but everything else is generally unchanged.
I’m continuing my internship at the Dayton Daily News where every day is a new challenge. This August I’m returning to Ball State as an English education major. I know that I’ll probably spend a portion of my adult life in a newsroom. Even if I try to get away from the newspaper business, somehow I always find my way back.
For so long when writing my column I thought that it, those words, defined me. It took me a long time to realize that it wasn’t who I was, it was what I did. But now I’m back to asking the same questions. What purpose do my words have in this world?
Who am I writing for? Me? You? Who knows? I may never know but I know I’ll never stop. It may not be who I am, but it will always be what I do.
So, I guess what I mean is, I’m back.
Jordan Pridemore is the former Editor of the Teen Advocate program of the Daily Advocate. She is in her third year at Ball State University and an Intern at the Dayton Daily News. Feel free to comment, or send messages to her at email@example.com.