Monday, 3 March 2014

A day-trip to the crunch

March eh? When did that happen?! Well, obviously it happened after February but hey, stop being obtuse! I'm talking about it in terms of the mortal "time is fleeting" existentialist kind of rhetoric that is so popular amongst kids these days (I'd assume...I mean kids do nothing now but talk philosophy don't they?) but yeah, enough about that, what I really want to talk about is March itself.

This month (and well, to be fair, a week or two of April) is full fit to bursting with essays and news stories to be written and exams to be completed and portfolios to be submitted and lions and tigers and bears, oh my! It's a lot of work, to be sure and I, in true Terencian fashion (yep, my name can now also be used as an adjective), am resisting the call to work because it's not yet the last moment to do everything. Which, I know, is a very stupid thing to do.

To be entirely honest, I've been contemplating changing course. Not altogether seriously, but when I find myself in the wee hours of the night, sat at my desk, a bottle of vodka in one hand and a gun to my head in the other because I can't find a solitary news story (scenario may not be entirely factual) I sometimes do think, maybe, just maybe, this isn't for me. 

I don't doubt that others have had this thought, not just on my course, but on every course. A "maybe the grass is greener" kind of thought about other paths, and as it gets closer and closer to the end of the year I find myself thinking more and more about it. Mainly because you can only get student loans for three years plus one, (I assume that plus one is there as a safety net should you only just fail the first year and are allowed to return, or you want to try a different course) so after this year it would be kind of hard to finance a jaunt through the third year. 

What's making me doubt my ability to do well at this is, well, a lot of things really, but principally it comes down to two things. Firstly, I'm inexact. I tend to speak, and write, passionately and you can't do that in newspapers. You have to be balanced, you have to be objective, which is a ludicrous concept if you think about it (how can a subjective being be objective?) and it annoys me more than anything.

Secondly, I am really, really, phenomenally bad at taking quotes. Shorthand is supposed to be a help in this, but if anything, it's a hindrance, at least it is to me. Not entirely sure how learning what is essentially a second language is supposed to help me take things down quicker than I could in my "native" tongue. That's not fair though, I guess, I've seen how quick it can be, it's just me, I can't do that, my brain isn't fast enough in that regard. I can't marry that specific, instinctive reaction to the mechanical skill. 

I am a bit slow, a bit plodding, when it comes to writing. I tend to write and rewrite and rewrite again because what I have initially wrote is not what I meant or doesn't flow well. So far in this very blog I've gone back over it and deleted and rewrote at least four paragraphs and countless sentences. It's something that can't really be done with news copy, you can maybe get away with a few grammatical errors, but it's got to be done quickly and to a formula. It's not writing, as such, it's working to a formula, which I think is actually my main criticism of it and is probably *the* reason why I have considered changing course. There's no need to understand a story, there are the facts, you get them down, you get them sent out. It's also affecting my writing ability, I've gone from a quite complex style to a more simplified one, and I don't like it! I'm making far more grammatical errors than I used to because I'm second guessing myself, I'm not using as many literary allusions because outside of editorials they have no place, it's so annoying!

These are just musings though. I'm not changing course, mainly because next year I get to do broadcast work, i.e. the stuff I am actually interested in doing. It's kind of weird that the first year would put so much emphasis on what is a dying medium (that is to say, print) and basically nothing on television, radio and relatively little on on-line publishing. The other factor to consider is...fuck it, you know, it's another style of writing. It doesn't hurt to have another weapon in my locker when I do get into writing full time. it'll definitely be better next year, no more shorthand....later taters!

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