My editor, Greg, told the members of the sports beat to take more risks.
“I don’t understand why you’re not taking risks. I thought younger people took more risks, but I take more risks than you.”
Fair enough, Greg.
So when I went to cover the National Anthem tryouts at Mizzou Arena, and I chose to focus on two sisters in the stands, instead of on the event itself. The girls were cute, quotable, and sweetly cheering for their mom. In the past I’ve tried to cram all my interviews into whatever story I’m working on, but that tends to make the story weak and patchy. So I focused all my efforts on the two girls story, tried some writing techniques I hadn’t before (i.e. some first person), and hoped for the best when I met with Greg.
“It’s ok,” he told me. “Not good and not bad.”
Then I mentioned to him that after all the contestants left, I tried out.
His chin almost hit the floor.
“THAT’S the story I want to hear!”
And so that’s the (second) story I wrote. Lesson learned: if you’re going to take a risk (like singing in the middle of Mizzou Arena and handing something to your editor written in first person), take that risk all the way.