This is not an exit

I’m learning to make better friends with words

In Uncategorized on January 4, 2012 at 4:02 pm

This is no New Year’s resolution. Yes, the timing is about right, but I’ve been thinking about ways to improve my writing for a while now and I think this might just be it. And by “this,” I mean I’m going to start posting more often. In order to do so, I’ve made sure I’ve got a few things ready to go for the next couple of weeks.

One of the biggest problems I have is that I get ambitious with projects to the point where they seem too big. It’s even tougher when I’m writing for my own blog instead of a newspaper or website where I have deadlines to stick to and an obligation to produce content. It’s easy to write something on deadline; the thrill of the pressure is enough to heat a cauldron of ideas to a boil when it’s merely a simmer, at least in my experiences.

I’ve had three weeks to really think about what I want to do with this space. I was felt guilty all of last year for neglecting to keep the blog updated but justified it because, well hell, I was the head of an award-winning newspaper at The Torch. We went to regionals for God’s sake! (For the serious version go here.)

But I’m not in charge of a newspaper staff anymore. I’m still keeping busy, but I often feel like I could do more. That’s part of the reason why I joined Flux, the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication’s flagship magazine. I’m also working on more original content for DualShockers outside of the usual news reports, but I feel like I’m at a crossroads in my education/early career where I really have to work hard to figure out what I want to do after I walk up to that podium and accept that empty diploma holder from the UO. I know that others will read this — friends, family, colleagues, professors and potential employers alike — but I want to leave no doubt that the plan I’m laying out for this blog is that it’s meant to help me grow.

My work at DualShockers is for its readers, much like the stories I’ll pitch and edit for Flux belong to the UO and Pacific Northwest community. But This is Not an Exit is going to be my outlet and that’s where I started when I came up with my renewed vision for it. So here are some bullet points for you to chew on that line out a couple of features and the philosophy behind what you’ll be reading if you’re patient enough to put up with me:

  • On a Side Note — When I was editor of The Torch, we had trouble finding folks to write opinion pieces. My managing editor, Andy Rossback, already had a Changing Lanes column we published on our community page that was a bit of commentary on the culture at Lane Community College and I modeled my own weekly blurb after it. Instead of commenting on the college and its happenings, I designed my column to address the issues we faced that week in producing the paper. Sometimes it would be my take on a statewide or national story where I’d ask for reader feedback and input beforehand. I fell in love with the bug “On a Side Note” because it exemplified what I saw when I closed my eyes and thought of the column: a Post-It note stuck on a newspaper or magazine article where the writer would try to make sense of it in untidy scrawl. So that’s what I’m going to do with the On a Side Note column I’ll post every Thursday. I want to take news, events and trends that grab my attention and add my own flair. What I want to do here is encourage discussion and discourse about these subjects which, admittedly, will mostly deal with journalism and video games. Sometimes (as is the case tomorrow) I’ll relate these instances to my own life.
  • Small bits and ramblings — One of the most valuable things I learned from writing for DualShockers is that sometimes there are only so many things you can write about a subject before it’s time to stop and let the information speak for itself. I can try to be as witty as I want, but, in the end, the fact that Batman: Arkham City has another set of downloadable skins for sale on the Xbox LIVE Marketplace only warrants so many words. I used to think that my posts had to be long, thought-provoking and hard-hitting. Well, that’s still true, but it doesn’t need to ring true for every post. One of many things I loved about Kotaku back in the day was the notes and inter-office emails the editors would post for readers to see. They gave you a bit of insight into who they were not just as journalists, but as regular Joes (or Janes) like you or I. So expect short posts that will hopefully give you an idea of who I am, from the near-constant celebration of video game milestones and anniversaries to offbeat musings on life, food, journalism, whatever. The sky’s the limit here.
  • Original photography — I don’t make as much use of my Canon Rebel as I should. I’ll often think of how amazing it would be to go on a photo expedition when I’m out and about only to lose interest or run out of energy by the time I get home. So I’m going to try and take my camera with me more often and use my own photos to anchor these articles. It’s a win-win. I generate content for the site and I get to get some practice in with the Rebel.
  • Guest articles — I absolutely love how interconnected the journalism profession is. When I sat down for my orientation as a Snowden intern in May 2010, I remember Patrick Webb, managing editor of The Daily Astorian, saying that every one of his fellow editors kept in touch with each other and that incompetence meant a bad reputation across the state. Everyone else at that table nodded in agreement and hearing stories of phone calls for references that went horribly for the applicant really drove home the notion that networking is of the utmost importance. I’ve got a long list of folks whom I’ll reach out to, but if you’re interested, feel free to shoot me an email or comment on this post.

Those four points more or less form the foundation for what you can expect from This is Not an Exit. I’ve already got plenty of writing ahead of me for both Flux and DualShockers, but this is something I really want to do for myself. The main inspiration … well, you’ll actually get to read about that very soon. But I’ll let you know that reading Rough and Rede, a blog maintained by The Oregonian’s George Rede, played a big role in getting me pumped up for this project. Check out his posts during National Blog Post Month and you’ll see where some of these ideas came from. The key for me is going to be consistency. As long as I just buckle down and do this, I’m sure it will flourish.

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