The weeks leading up to spring break are hard. We’re still a week out with an issue of JagWire to get out before vacation. That means some late nights, and for the sleep impaired like me those are tough days and days after. Last night was one of our late nights-Friday at school until 9:00, not my idea of heaven, but part of my job. I’m not complaining, just acknowledging. Even though I anticipated a late night, I knew it was going to be a special day.
I’d been asked to write a column for the South Sound Sidekick, an online advice column for the Weekly Volcano. The Volcano fills a similar niche to Seattle’s The Stranger. It’s fun, non-traditional journalism. The editor suggested some topics to me and I tinkered with a few different ideas. I thought about writing about my journalism students, but just couldn’t seem to pull my ideas together into something cogent. So, I took Nikki up on one of her suggestions and wrote about Patrick as a young musician-“How to Raise a Rock Star.” The column is really intended as an advice column, but I wrote it as a narrative. The first document I produced was about 1100 words and re-reading it, just kind of sentimental and sappy. Not that it wasn’t honest, just that it wasn’t very good.
I sent it in to Nikki McCoy on Sunday night and she was kind of like “nice try, give it another go.” I was mortified. She suggested I take a look at the other Sidekick columns. Most of them boiled their suggestions down to practical bits with short, sometimes snarky paragraphs. Honestly, I didn’t know if I could pull that off. I came home from school and immediately threw myself into transforming my narrative into some key ideas. I was guided by the idea of a top five reasons list. In any case, I built around four important reasons-the loudness and general disruption; supporting your musician at shows; understanding your kid’s dream doesn’t have to be the same as his parent; and parenting with patience.
Sounds easy right? Honestly writing about this period of our lives was hard. It was a difficult time in Pat’s life. He was often unreasonable, and I, working with students his age and throwing a three hour commute into my work day each day, was not very patient and not very reasonable in response. I don’t have a lot of pleasant memories. I feel like I was often absent because of my work responsibilities and did not provide a positive role model. Maybe I’m just being too sensitive, but that’s the way I feel about it. So, my challenge was to be reflective. What could I have done better? What were some other ways to approach our conflicts when we were at cross purposes. I began with accepting the validity of his dream of being a musician, a performer, a rock star. That’s something I had a hard time with when he was young. So my challenge was to craft some ideas that in fact weren’t snark at my son’s expense. Rather, it should recognize the real challenges posed by budding rock stars, but not disrespect the desire to follow that path despite the real sacrifices that might entail. However it should also offer readers, parents of Pat clones if they’re out there, some areas of advice and some things to think about if their child was following that path.
I put hours into the re-write. Lorri helped, as she always does. She is a great editor, and she kept me so grounded. I can’t say how much I appreciated her help. Yesterday the story went live and I’ve been very pleased with the result. It’s gotten more Facebook likes than any other column by a huge margin, and Nikki sent me a great note offering her praise and that of her editor. The Facebook comments on my home page were very supportive including wonderfully positive comments from Pat. If you haven’t had a chance to read it I hope you’ll do so and perhaps give some feedback. I hope I’ll have other opportunities to write for a larger audience.
The other big news was the arrival of my iPad. If you read my last post you’ll recall that I won the Fern Valentine award for protecting students’ First Amendment rights. What I didn’t share is that it came with a cash award. So, I took my winnings and invested them in a new iPad. I’ve always been kind of intrigued with the little darlin’s,but at the same time befuddled about how to make the best use of them. My hope is it will extend our technology at home while allowing me to be connected while I’m out. Had some difficulty connecting to our wi-fi yesterday because of the very practical security son Casey installed on our router. It looked like I’d have to wait until next week to get things set up properly but I was able to figure it out on my own, and the tablet is working perfectly now. New iPads ordered from the Apple store can be engraved for free so I had mine engraved with my name and JagWire 2013. It really was a nice reward for the years of uncertainty surrounding the JagWire trial and again I thank WJEA for the recognition.
Yep, Friday was a big day, Saturday’s been a good one for just coming down.