My softball journey ended Saturday with regionals played locally. After that, I'll hang out in the office fielding calls and designing/editing pages while the state softball tournaments are played elsewhere. We're sending reporters to cover track, baseball and soccer state finals. Also, the state tennis tournament is here, so we'll have a writer covering that, but someone must stay behind and get the paper out on time. I'm OK with that. Maybe next year, I'll make the trip to cover state softball.
What have I learned from my first season in the circle, so to speak?
1. I didn't forget how to write. Yes, I worried about whether I could still do it after so many years editing other people's stories. But my second feature ended up on A1 (a local softball player has leukemia, and her team and others stepped up to honor her throughout the season). I guess I did something right.
2. My time management skills need work. Writing, designing pages, taking calls, doing agate and editing can be incredibly tricky when you have to do all of that in an eight-hour shift. It will be even harder in a few weeks when our hours are cut to 37.5 a week. Though I don't do a bad job of managing my time, I can always improve.
3. I've got to allow myself room to grow and make mistakes. Too many times this season, I wanted to just quit writing and go back to the desk full time because I wasn't satisfied with my beat work. I didn't feel like the right person for the job because I didn't know as much about the sport as I felt I should. And with time constraints, I felt I wasn't getting enough time to edit and do the things I know I can do really well, such as checking facts and proofing pages. I need to accept that things won't be perfect when my time must be divided in so many ways, but I'm doing the best I can. A hard lesson for someone who spent so much of her life striving for a 4.0 GPA.
4. Jake is a saint. I was consumed in my A1 story, trying to make sure everything was factually accurate, but he told me I needed to make the reader feel something, too. After the story was published, a few people told me it made them cry, but I think that had less to do with how I wrote it and more with the subject. At any rate, I don't think the story would have gotten the reaction it did without Jake's influence.
The biggest reason I call him a saint is because I developed extreme tunnel vision this spring, and he gently reminded me that while I could talk to him about softball, I shouldn't talk at him like he's a tape recorder. Too many times, I was saying my notes out loud, and he would tune out because we weren't engaging in a back-and-forth conversation. I needed to be reminded that while Jake understands what it's like to be an obsessive-compulsive reporter, he's my husband, first and foremost.
5. Getting a life is necessary. It kind of goes back to No. 4. Jake and I both get stressed with our work, and we need an outlet. I haven't really ventured out much here, and now that the weather's starting to warm up and the softball beat is behind me for the most part (a bunch of top players participate in summer ball), I won't have much of an excuse to live like a hermit anymore.
In a similar vein, I haven't exercised as much as I've wanted to lately, and my food habits can be quite sad at times - either I hardly eat or I end up eating something I regret later - so getting back on the treadmill and going to farmer's markets will be a must this summer.