Plight

I could never be a housewife. The idea of settling down with one man and leaving behind a few well-raised ancestors and unpolished antiques seriously disturbs me. However, I feel the need to leave something behind to leave a mark, to show that I was here and I cared. This something is my writing. At the age of twelve I fell head over-heels in love with words. I could persuade people, entertain people, inform people—do anything that I want. But I was a selfish writer, talking about my own trials and tribulations which were not only quite petty, but dull.My junior year in high school, I decided to take journalism. The Granite Bay Gazette was a prestigious paper that seemed like a good fit for me. I would be able to talk to interesting people, find out what they do and why. I could sneak around as a pseudo-detective, searching for the harsh truth behind the candied responses. I could voice my opinion and inform people of society’s ills.Then the first day of class arrived. I was assigned four stories: a movie review, an opinion piece, a story about how to apply for college, and a feature on foreign exchange students. This was hardly ground-breaking journalism. Furthermore, I couldn’t even put my verbosity to good use. “We use ‘said,’” my teacher, Mr. Grubaugh, informed me, “we don’t use ‘explained,’ or ‘implied,’ or ‘refuted’- just ‘said.’” My dreams wavered. Was this really what I wanted to do with my life? Scribe dull information with the vocabulary of a fourth-grader?I shrugged off my doubts and decided to take my stories into my own hands. Three issues later I took on a story about freak-dancing in school dances. I found students from other schools who reported that there were people actually having sexual intercourse on the dance floor and scanned the district websites to verify that these schools had actual dance codes. They did. The story went front page and proved that rules and codes of conduct don’t solve problems, it is how the administration enforces the rules. It was my first front page story ever.I later convinced a high school parent to go on the record and describe his philosophy on providing his under-age son and friends with alcohol. I interviewed a student whose brother was in Norris Hall when the Virginia Tech Massacre occurred. I did what I set out to do: meet interesting people with stories to tell and try to tell them in the best way that I could.At the end of the year, the Gazette staff met for a short awards ceremony at Round Table Pizza. We gathered around our teacher as he ran through a list of awards both silly and prestigious. When he came to announcing the two Writers of the Year, a few people turned and looked at me. I rolled my eyes. I wouldn’t win. I couldn’t win. I was just a rookie. “Get up here, Vatz,” Grubaugh called.I froze for a second, unsure whether or not he was kidding. Clumsily, I stumbled up to the front of the awards room to accept my wood plaque. I had worked so hard, scrounging for sources, staying up late to write stories, digging for angles and here I was. I was a writer of the year for the best high school newspaper in the state.My small certificate and plaque hang above my desk. When I become frustrated with journalism, school, or life in general I look up at it and am reminded of why I write. I write to tell a story. Not my story, but the story of others—the story of most human beings. We struggle, we doubt, but we persevere. It is a story I hope to keep telling.

Plight

stephvatz

Granite Bay, United States

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