It took me years of newsmares (that’s when you wake up in the middle of the night in a pool of your own sweat because you dreamed tomorrow’s newspaper hit the street with great blank holes where your stories should have run) to trust that every story is a building block towards a larger understanding. Reporting is not an easy gig but it all became a little more manageable once I got past a lot of rookie mistakes and developed a growing group of trusted and informed contacts. One issue raises another, so the fear of coming up with nothing to write about diminished over time and before I realized it I had developed a fairly comprehensive understanding of all the issues in my area of reporting. This is why it’s such a crying shame to see seasoned beat reporters disappear from the fold (so to speak) in the freelance race to the bottom. But I digress.
These days I've been seeing some parallels with becoming a competent, informed reporter and building an art practice. I’m just about over the real-world shock of trying to make from what I’ve learned in art school, which produces about the same level of anxiety I felt after graduating from journalism school way back when. Extending that parallel, I'm square in the equivalent of the junior-woodchuck reporter stage, making a lot of rookie mistakes, fumbling my way toward a new sort of understanding. (Last week’s rookie mistake: layering a photograph with pouring medium, only to watch all the vivid colours run and pool into a swamp palette. Two weeks ago it was the discovery that a nearly-full can of yellow spraypaint was just high enough in my toolbox that the closed lid depressed its trigger, covering the entire contents in a gummy yellow mess.)