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Four Years at the Mount

Sophomore year

A learning experience

Leeanne Leary
Class of 2017

(9/2014) In just a few weeks I will no longer be the "freshman writer" for this column. The transition may seem simple and natural to our readers; a new year comes so we all move up a year and you gain a new voice. For some reason itís not been easy for me to accept. To think that I will be a sophomore means a lot of things. It means that I might actually have to decide what I want to do with my life, I might have more than a few problems managing my time, and I might have classes that challenge me to learn more than I think is possibleóokay, I definitely will. I also know that it means that I will get to continue to grow in my faith and friendships, and scholastically, in my classes and as a writer for this paper.

As I look forward to writing my twelfth article and starting my second year on the staff, I canít help but reflect on my first year. I will admit, there were articles that went more smoothly than others. There were some that were worked on for weeks but still were never right until Kyle fixed them. There were also some that made me so incredibly happy to write that it took only a couple of hours from start to finish. Then there were the ones that I just didnít know what to do with, and had to email Kathryn for ideas. Through all of these articles, I think I learned a little.

For the articles that just didnít seem right until my editor looked at them, I learned that teamwork really is vital in any production because our eyes see differently and we hear different things when we read the same words. I learned why there is an editing process, because even if I spent days on one article, it probably still wouldnít be perfect. I also began to understand why there are so many people who look over every single thing that goes into the paper as we caught the very rare typo. It began to make sense why one person canít simply catch all mistakes and fix everything; it takes a team of people with different views to work from every angle. These articles that didnít fall together perfectly may have been frustrating, but it was from these that I learned the most.

I learned that sometimes my first idea isnít as great as I think it is, and not everything works on paper. I learnedówell Iím still learningóthat organization helps to keep a clear head and thoughts, although I havenít mastered this yet. I learned that breaks are necessary and that itís okay to start articles closer to when theyíre assigned than to when theyíre due. I learned that writing for the paper is similar to living life because things donít always work out and some things take more time than others. Sometimes it takes two, three, or even four attempts for anything to make sense, and some of the best work comes from a long and difficult process. Also I found that sometimes a bowl of chocolate ice cream is really all you need.

For the articles that just clicked and the ones that were so much fun from start to finish, I learned that you donít learn much if you donít have any problems. From these I simply learned to appreciate the times where things just fall together, because it doesnít always work that way. From my favorite article, and one that also went smoothly, I learned that interviewing someone is perhaps one of the most interesting things one can do. To sit down with someone and simply be immersed in their past, their thoughts and opinions, their values, and their lifestyle, is fascinating. This also taught me that writing down someone elseís thoughts can be much more fun than writing down my own because it becomes a sort of story, instead of me just ranting about what I think and how I feel. These articles reminded me why I love to write and why I need to appreciate it more.

Each article I wrote, each article that I read, and each staff meeting taught me a little more, whether it be about my own writing, what good writing looks like, or the process of the paper production. I am happy to say that I spent my first year on the paper learning and I hope to spend the next few doing the same. While I continue to learn and grow, I want to welcome our new freshman writer with the same advice. To use each second as a learning experience because as a beginner, you will see growth each time you sit down to write. Everything I learned was positive and helped me grow in not just journalistic writing, but all sorts of writing that translated into my classes and everyday life. If you keep an open mind and realize that not every article may be comfortable, but these are the ones that will teach you the most. Writing for this paper will teach you about yourself by forcing you to formulate real thoughts and put them onto paper.

It will teach you about how far youíve come as a writer as you watch even the most difficult topics get a little easier to handle. It will also show you how far youíve come as a person. When youíre moving on to your sophomore year and are able to go back and look at your very first articles, you will see in your own writing where your thoughts were and how youíve matured and grown. It will show you what you like, what you donít like, and how to enjoy both. You will get to learn from the best people around and see how a newspaper can really effect and bring together a community. And most importantly, you will learn as I did that without passion, even the best writerís work will fall flat. So love what you do. Love the process. Love to write and share with Emmitsburg. Love the opportunity to reflect on your experiences, and it will show.

Read other articles by Leeanne Leary