The more introductions and explanations we get in 4450, the more I look forward to the middle of the year trudge. I get the same sense of dread before walking into the newsroom as when I was a brat in the car on the way to swimming lessons. It is amazing how a simple undertone of pressure and professionalism can push you back a decade in development. Honestly, this is probably not the best way to introduce my blog to my editors and professors but I still think it is a fitting way to describe initial contact with the class. It comes off as a sensation of looking down into a pool that is just deep enough to dive into but shallow enough to survive in case you slip. You can still easily hurt yourself on the bottom or swallow too much water—the dangers initially seem to overcome a new reporter’s innate skill and beliefs. You can quickly forget to tread water and sink. Your limbs can tire and quit on you, dooming you to the depths of failure. Those failures and the anticipation of real work can erode that natural instinct to succeed. The class pushes you in and you have that one split second while you’re floating above the water, pondering your decisions and choices up to that point.
This first week we’ve been just about to fall in. No life jacket, no floaties. The pool of responsibility and stories is quickly coming towards us. Terrible extended metaphors can no longer shield us from the reality of the paper. Despite that terror that lurks behind our past amateur pieces and publications, there’s that faint memory of calming treading in the shallow end. I’m starting to feel it kick in a bit as I start to look into stories and ideas. I’m still not totally confident in my swimming ability. I won’t let myself sink though. I’ll doggy paddle like a fool before I let the panic paralyze me.
Again, sorry for the ugly wording and terrible metaphor.