Week 10 Journals
I met with Warren today to go over the story. I was really nervous. I was worried that he would be offended if I got a fact wrong or misinterpreted something he said. I met him in the Veteran’s Resource Center, which was cool because he was a big advocate of the VRC in our interviews. We went into a small room and I handed him the paper. The room got quiet as he took the paper clip off the story and began to read. I tried not to stare too hard as I attempted to read his expressions to see if he was pleased or upset. I had gotten a few details wrong, but they were easily fixed. He told me he liked it. I was so relieved. I worked hard on his story, but I was happy that Warren saw it in the paper.
This class was a lot of hard work, but I’m glad I took it. I’m walking away with valuable skills that I might not have gotten anywhere else. I learned to keep asking questions; I wouldn’t have learned some of the things that I put into the final story if I had just accepted Warren’s first answer and not followed up. That’s how I got the first anecdote that begins the story. I asked him to tell me about something he told me in our first interview, but he ended up telling me this really great story. The skills I learned in recording and creating podcasts really intrigued me and I hope I get the chance to use them in my future.
My last journal entry I would like to talk about my thoughts about the project and what I got out of it as a whole. First off when I first read about the war project in the syllabus I thought it would be easy where we only interview our veteran one time and that was it. When I got to class the first day and heard about the war project I thought this is going to be so hard and a lot of work. I wondered how I was going to fit in all the work of my other classes with this project. I was really nervous to interview my veteran for the first time. My original veteran I was assigned to never wrote me back so I was paired up with a different veteran and basically got thrown into the interview without warning. In all honesty I think this helped me out because I didn’t have a lot of time to sit and think about how nervous I was. I just had to come up with questions fast and just dive in headfirst and go with whatever came up. I feel like I am walking away with so much from this project personally and as a journalist. First of all you don’t really realize what these veterans go through until you hear their stories from them personally. Sure you can read a story in a book or a magazine but you don’t get the real emotions that you get when they are sitting right across from you. This war project made me enjoy writing more and it really is a neat thing to listen to a person’s story. I learned how to use many different multimedia programs that were key to getting these projects complete. It honestly felt more like a job than school most days. When I sit down and think about how many words I transcribe, the story final story I wrote, the story behind the story and all the journal entries I can’t believe how much words that was all together. All together it was over 12,000 words. I am really proud of myself for being able to complete this project with all the workloads of other classes and having a job. I went to the Green Medicine event, a story Grace's previous class worked on. and thought it was neat. I am really looking forward to the event that is held to show everyone our hard work on the project and our veterans stories.
I thought today would never come. After class today, I can turn in my final draft and take a huge sigh of relief. This class has been physically and mentally draining. I am so glad I can finish a few tweaks to the story in class today and put this thing to bed. Working on this project over the semester has been a great experience. I got to work with some great classmates and a great professor. I felt that working with Michael over the course of the semester opened my eyes to the soldier’s perspective on war, even having read the previous editions. There’s a big difference between reading the previous versions and actually going through the process. I knew that, out of all my classes this semester, this was going to be the most demanding, so I jumped right into it. I feel that, because I approached it in this manner, I got the most out of this experience. Despite all the challenges and work involved, I would definitely take this class again because I had a lot of fun with it and I learned a lot from working with Michael over the course of the semester.
Today, Myles and I met up for the last time before the semester ended. We looked over and read the “finished-ish” draft to do basic fact and style checking.
Initially, I was a little nervous showing him the draft. Honestly, it was because I didn’t want to offend him if I had gotten something wrong. Once he started reading it over, I wasn’t nervous anymore. As he read it silently to himself, he’d smile, nod or chuckle when he reached certain parts of the story. At others parts, he remained silent but had a reassuring smile on his face.
When he finished reading, I asked him what he thought. “That was really good,” he said.
I couldn’t be happier with how things turned out, and I’m so glad that Myles had the opportunity to tell his story and that I could be the gateway for him to do so.
It’s been heating up around Oshkosh now that winter is ending and summer is starting (and we’ve apparently skipped spring).
The recent increase in heat has been tough for a lot of the college students at UWO, but compared to what Dustin and other soldiers had to go through, what we’re experiencing is nothing.
So far we’ve had a temperature of about 80 degrees or so at the max. Dustin experienced temperature up to 140 degrees while he served overseas. Most of the students here have been rocking the shorts and T-shirts. Dustin had to hear his uniform, as well as carry up to 80 pounds of gear around.
He said that there were missions he would come back from just drenched in sweat as if he was just swimming. The heat in Wisconsin seems much more tolerable in comparison.
I finished my final draft (after going over about five drafts with Grace) just days ago and met with Mark to fact-check. I think he’s probably sick of going over the same information over and over again, but you can never be too sure as a journalist. On the first day of class, I think Grace told us if we misspelled a proper name in the final draft we would fail the class. As scary as that sounds, I appreciate the pressure to get things right, I don’t think you can learn it any other way.
I have learned so much from this project, as a person and as a journalist. As a journalist, I am walking away with an invaluable set of skills that I don’t think I could have gotten doing anything else. I am used to working on stories and projects that take maybe a couple days to a week. You interview the subjects, write the story, and that’s it. This project took 10 weeks, and that’s really pushing it. You’re not just asking the vet a few questions and that’s it. You’re getting to know them, learning as much about them as you can. And then you have to sum it all up in 2000 words. That’s not a skill that comes overnight, or even over 10 weeks, but this project gets you pretty close.
The time has come for the editing process where I tear down all the things I thought the story needed. “Killing the Darlings” as they say. I am pretty sure that is just an expression to make a writer feel accomplished even when continually hitting “delete.”
Beloved sentences murdered, I got the story down to 2,300 words on the nose before Grace got a hold of it. All my careful planning and precise word counts shot. It is back up to 2,350.
It will be finished once I get a couple questions from Todd answered and his final approval/fact checking. Then I want to make a video slideshow, which also needs to be recorded. The last push is here. I am on schedule.
I’m finally at the last week of the semester. I never thought it would end, but I’m here. I made it. All I need to do now is polish up a few papers and presentations for my other courses, and I’m home free. I learned a lot from Kat this semester. Number one thing I learned from this project is to never procrastinate. I made sure to put in time each week on this project, and it really turned out great. Although it was difficult to get together with Kat, we figured everything out and were able to meet enough times to get the story done. We met today for the last time. I made her take one last picture with me, and even though she hates photos she agreed to take this last one with me. This project taught me a lot about the military and all the behind-the-scenes work that is put in. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. I know I’m a better journalist because I completed this course.
I have finished the project and feel relieved to say the least. All that is left to do is make sure everything is saved and uploaded to where it should be. This shouldn’t be too big of an issue considering I have all my work saved in several places and Grace is going to help me upload most of the work. This was my last bit of big work for the entire semester and everything I have left to do doesn’t seem like such a big deal. I’m sure Nick is also feeling like a monkey is off of his back, me being that monkey. I probably won’t hear from him until the fall when all of this work is shown. I hope that he likes it after he sees all of it. And now that all of this is done I hope that I can have a summer filled with at least eight hours of sleep every night and a little less coffee.
I’m finally done with the final draft. I had Aaron read it and he seemed to like it. I’ve also finished the podcasts and I’m relieved that the class is finally winding to a close. It was a fun, yet stressful whirlwind. I’m very happy that I was assigned Aaron as a veteran, and I’m glad that I got to tell his story. It was an honor getting to know him in the few weeks and I feel like I learned a lot about feature writing and publications. I’m very excited to have the finished product unveiled in November.