Re-launched, but still slightly under construction. :-)

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Talking Head

So I had to give a speech at the Student Media Awards at Augusta State tonight. Until about 3 p.m., I had no freaking idea what I was going to say. Somewhere about 4:30 p.m., I thought, "eh, who cares?" and started jotting down things that... well, they were kind of random. So here's my speech, give or take, although you don't get the benefit of my briiiilllllianntt(!!!) delivery.

Hello, I’m Stacey Hudson, arts writer for The Metro Spirit. I’m not the real speaker – that’s this guy over here, a great guy, a capital fellow, a real top-notch editor – so I’m not going to get into a lecture. I’m going to tell you briefly how I got into journalism.

I was in second grade when I won my first writing award. I had to give a speech to the Kiwanis Club about the award, for an essay entitled, “What Reading Means to Me.” I don’t know what I said – I was 8 for crying out loud – but I know that they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. “An astronaut!” I said. My mom always said I had my head in the clouds.

I was in second grade when I won my first writing award.

So I didn’t start this job early. But when I was in high school, and being told at the age of 15 that it was time to decide what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, I settled on saying that I wanted to be a writer because it didn’t require me to actually DO anything but drink hot tea and pontificate and wear silly fashion accessories. When my mother asked what I wanted to study in college, I said, “Philosophy.” I figured with my position as a cashier at Wendy’s that I already had the prerequisite job skills. “Are you sure we didn’t put fries in the bag? Can you prove the fries' nonexistence?” I didn’t last long there.

Before I went to college, I had freelance stints with Music Atlanta Magazine – they didn’t last long, either – and Creative Loafing for free CDs and concert tickets and cool points that no one recognized but me. And when I went to college, my mom asked what major I had chosen. “I registered in the journalism program,” I said. She groaned. “I’d rather you were in a 12-step program. What are you going to do with that?” I told her that I had a 12-step program to future success. “Where?” she asked me. “Right up here,” I tapped my head. I lied.

She was concerned about money, like all parents, because parents – like me, now - are the ones who have to make it. She didn’t want me to live on Ramen noodles and cat food for the rest of my life, and I’ve eaten my share of Ramen but never cat food. And the first step to making money in journalism is “Don’t suck.”

So congratulations to the award winners tonight. These plaques are validation that you do not suck. Not sucking is a very important first step in getting a good job and healing your parents’ ulcers and not eating cat food.

It helps to have a little bit of natural talent, although you can always just work really hard on your skills. But if I wanted to work really hard I’ve have taken more math classes. So you can cross “Not sucking” off your list now.

So then I dropped out of college and left behind a full scholarship and room and board. It’s not something I’d recommend, but I told my mother it was part of the requirements for a journalist. Because step two is to drink a lot and do plenty of stupid things. Doing stupid things gives you perspective on the world. Drinking a lot helps you to deal with the perspective you get on the world. Perspective is important if you’re going to bring texture and context to your writing – or photography, or sculpture. So basically, I recommend these mild forms of experimentation. Now is the time to make your big mistakes and spend the rest of your life trying to live them down! I have tattoos that serve that purpose very well.

The problem is that the alcohol made me forget steps four, five and six. So that brings us to:

Step seven! Give up drinking, swear off doing stupid crap, and buckle down and study. I went back to college – thanks, ASU! They gave me more scholarship money that I vowed not to waste this time.

Step eight: Realize that you are going to continue to do stupid things and there is nothing that anyone can do about it, but at least you weren’t drinking at the time. The stupid is all-natural.

Certified organic stupidity.

Step nine: Experience the joy of a professor tearing your heartfelt personal experience story to shreds. Learn that your life is not interesting. Save this knowledge for future speeches to college students who think you might know something.

But step ten is to learn that no one who works in journalism knows anything because truth doesn’t exist in our profession. We deal in facts, and the facts change as days pass and new events occur. If you’re looking for truth, go back to Wendy’s and major in philosophy. Business school graduates eat enough fries to give you really good job security.

In my previous college major, this
was the view I was most likely
to see from the corner office.

Step eleven: Panic. Consider public relations. It’s more lucrative, but less fun and almost as hated as the media.

Step twelve. If you get through all of this, and your first thought when envisioning yourself working is still typing frantically as the clock ticks ever closer to your deadline, or washing clay off of yourself at the end of the day, or editing the words of some rambling frantic writer who can’t seem to meet her deadline – sorry, Tom! – then none of the previous 12 steps were even necessary. Unless you listened to the anxious mothers of the world – hi! That be me! I have my daughter’s convent all picked out! – you were going to end up here anyway.



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