Monday, June 08, 2009

Bottom of the totem: My retrospective

Kanye West had this whole saying -- “stadium status” -- which is believed to be Jay-Z’s way of saying an artist had reached a certain point, a point at which he was only doing shows in stadiums. I adopted it. Only I wanted to be working in stadiums, though as a sports writer, by 28. I’m not sure how far along I am towards reaching that goal. My biggest stories here to date have been for our local features section, which is my side hustle. You should not be shining off of a side hustle. But to know me is to know that my success is never conventional.

By the way – I am writing this from my desk here in the newsroom. The phones aren’t ringing. It’s 6:30 at night. I just read my story in today’s paper, well, there’s two of them. One of them is a story about a girl who won the New York girls’ golf individual championship. The other is about a softball team that won its Regional title yesterday. This stuff isn’t typically the kind that makes my tummy tingle, but it’s what keeps my foot in the door.

I definitely got in trouble for writing a story for them -- local features section -- that I now understand should have been pitched to my editors in Sports. Funny, but I wasn’t even thinking it was something they’d want. I e-mailed the editor about it, but he never got back to me. Not only did he like it, but from what I heard, he really liked it. Which, of course, only made him more upset. A huge, huge, huge misunderstanding.

You know when you have a meeting with your boss, and you’ve done something so wrong but so unintentional that you just hang your head, helpless, apologetic and with that empty-pit feeling in your stomach? Yeah.

I do not relate to my co-workers the way that others do, and that is bothersome. And only because I think I am viewed as intimidating or threatening in some way. But other than that I have no complaints. I am writing everyday. I’m doing what I want to do. You know, except the stadium status part.

One think I have done right is get some fairly good mentoring from some great reporters and writers -- from Sports Illustrated writers, Daily News writers, and others. They seem to believe I have ability.

As for what I lack, which, in retrospect, could be the very thing that does me in, is consistency and eagerness. It’s hard for me to be Steady Eddy when decisions come down that I know are a direct correlation of what editors think of my performance and when I am clearly not on equal footing in comparison to my co-workers. With the competition for stories and attention so intense, it sometimes fosters jealousy, gossip and back-stabbing. It’s a tough environment. But I am learning. Slowly I am learning.

In three years, I’ll be that 28 year-old reporter I’d hoped to be covering the N.B.A. I wonder in which ways I’ll have grown as a person, and also as a writer. I hope that I’ll be able to look back on these experiences as learning experiences, as bumps in the road to my not-so-conventional success. I’m not leaving New York, the greatest city in the world anytime soon. I mean, Atlanta? Come on. Besides, Jay-Z, Bruce Ratner and some other developers are moving the Nets to Brooklyn. And I hear they’re building a pretty nice stadium.

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Posted by Darren Sands at 7:09 PM | link

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