Living on The Edge

On Monday, March 7, I boarded a school bus with 18 teenagers, and we traveled to the Tennessee High School Press Association annual awards program in Nashville, Tennessee, to await our verdict. Did the tears, the late nights, the fights, the stress, the frustration, the dedication—did the love pay off?

When Dr. Jimmy McCollum announced The Edge newspaper as the Best Overall Newspaper in the state, an All-Tennessee newspaper, we had our answer. YES!

Whether you’ve been following my blog for several months or a few days, you’ve probably discovered that when it comes to the truth, I wear my heart on my sleeve. I weave my feelings between the lines of my poetry and my prose. I write with passion from my heart because I can’t not write that way.

I am who I am.

And once again, I can’t hold back. If it weren’t for The Edge newspaper  staff, I never would have found my courage to write a novel.

People say the first novel is for yourself. Chances aren’t necessarily favorable that it’ll ever be published. Why? Because the writer is still learning, still riding the wave of passion that fuels the dream. Experienced writers, published writers, tell us newbies that it takes, maybe, five manuscripts before the writer is “ready” for the market.

I don’t know if and when The Edge will sell. I don’t know if an agent or an editor will buy my dream. What I do know is I know that “feeling” I get when I write with fire. Something good happens. I write it real. I write it true. I carried that “feeling” through every moment of writing The Edge.

Emily Dickinson once wrote a poem that began with this line: “Tell all the truth but tell it slant.”

Her wording is thought provoking, intriguing, but unlike Emily I can’t tell it slant—not when it comes to telling the story of The Edge journalists.  I have to tell it the way it is, the way I see it every day. To tell it slant would be to tell the story of strangers, not the young people who have molded my life.

My book is all fiction, and every word of it is true. The names have changed to protect the innocent, and the events may not have happened the way they’re written. But it’s true.

People say truth is stranger than fiction. And a novel must be believable “to sell.” I don’t know if anyone else will “get it,” but maybe this book isn’t for just anyone. Maybe it’s just for those kids who seek the adrenaline rush of a deadline, the thrill of adventure, the heart tickle that comes when the words come together just right, and the pride of seeing your first byline.

Even if The Edge isn’t a smash success, maybe someday, one of my kids will stumble upon my manuscript and remember those days, that day when the words that he or she wrote made a real difference in someone else’s life.

They’ve made a difference in mine.

Congratulations Edge staff.

TEN TIPS ON HOW TO BECOME AN ALL-TENNESSEE NEWSPAPER

A good reporter always remembers her shades. Incognito is the word.

Caffeine and deadlines go hand in hand.

A fedora boosts one's creativity.

If anyone asks, just say you're from Memphis.

Mexican food is an instant cure for writer's block.

Sometimes you just don't ask why.

Wear your heart on your sleeve, your name on your back.

Don't be afraid to put on your game face.

Don't be afraid to challenge one another.

Love what you do and the people you work with.

And what does the Lord require of you?

Act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.

Ceiling ninjas

 

I write YA fiction.

I work with teenagers, creative teenagers. Teenagers who write. Quirky journalists who spend as much time as I do, wondering “what if.”

Sometimes my quirky journalists experiment with “what if” to see what might happen. That’s when things get ugly.

Take today, for instance.

I was working diligently, trying to get files ready  for the second issue of our newspaper. I sit behind a monitor, a really big monitor. Sometimes when I’m involved in a tedious graphics project, I don’t always see what happens on the other side.

Imagine me sitting on the other side.

How could this possibly have happened right under my nose?

Of course, weird things always happen in our room.

We have ceiling ninjas.

Ceiling Ninja Entrance Only

We don’t see them, but we know they’re there. They come down out of the ceiling and attack.

You don’t want to know what happened to the last guy. I think he missed a deadline. The ninjas aren’t happy when one of the staff members misses a deadline.

I found this in my room today.

If the ceiling ninjas don’t get the slackers, the mob will. Nikoli and Olga are harsh. They might just send out reinforcement. You have to watch out for the men in black.

The quiet ones are the ones you have to watch out for.

And some of their minions are experts in the martial arts. Her hands, for example, are registered as lethal weapons.

Highly skill assassin

You may not know this, but Room 38 is often referred to as The Asylum. I don’t know why. I guess we just see the world a little differently than do most other folks.

We don't see the world the way others do.

We have signs posted to warn visitors.

At least we do have some guidelines.

Although it may seem a little chaotic on most days, we take our jobs seriously, and we work hard. We’re a team. And we love one another. Most of the time.

Happiness is living life on The Edge.

Every staff member is a team player, and we specialize in different jobs. Most, however, wear many hats.

Big hats

Small hats

Ethan's hat

Some of us should stay away from hats.

 

Above all, we work hard to develop our investigative skills. We notice even the smallest details. Oh my, it seems one of my staff members swiped my camera at El Manantial’s and took a random picture.

Forbidden

I write YA fiction.

I work with teens—quirky, creative teens.

They are my world.

They are the reason why I write.

2010-2011 EDGE Staff