Words by Kathryn Monsewicz
You may have noticed I didn’t write an introductory for my first blog post. Why? Because I like to hit the ground running. When I’m given an assignment, I bolt. You’ve never seen a writer make a deadline a month early? Here, hold my beer.
It is that instinct — to run and not walk — that drove the nail into my hard-headed persona, put the jackhammer to my always-overthinking mind, shouting, “Hey, you’re a writer. Go write.”
I started out at Kent State pursuing a bachelor’s degree in art history. Do you know how many students in the graduating class of Spring 2019 signed up to be major in art history? Two. This includes the girl who typed the words on the screen here. I still have an overwhelming love affair with art history. Da Vinci is my muse, and Monet my golden calf to worship. Unfortunately, a successful career is hard to find in the world of art studies. Jobs at museums are slim to none unless you’re doing maintenance, and becoming a teacher meant another two or more years of student debt.
So I changed my major to journalism. Why? Because my mother told me to. Why else would you do anything at age 18?
Yes, mother, I know you’re reading this and in about three minutes I’m going to get a text that reads, “I did NOT tell you to do that!”
But mom, you did. You didn’t know it, but you did.
My mother is a journalist and has been for a little over 40 years. She started young, writing her own newspaper and working for the local Hartville News. Ever since I was little, I’ve heard her wake up in the middle of the night to answer phone calls about homicides. I’ve watched her scribble notes in ancient shorthand on any piece of paper available at the time — usually an envelope or a Jimmy John’s receipt.
When I was even younger and she couldn’t find a babysitter, Saturdays were play days at the newspaper building. Don’t worry, I never missed my Saturday morning cartoons. I always watched Jimmy Newtron in the dimly lit meeting room on the big box television while coloring images of sailboats for dad and palm trees for mom.
My mom taught me how to be a writer. She’s a machine, that woman. Go ahead, count how many times her byline shows up in the latest edition. I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re in the double digits in a thick Sunday paper. Her most common saying? “I’ve worked at 15 papers in eight states.”
Her most common saying? “Bless your heart!” (to the person she’s trying to get a good quote from).
Upon switching my major to journalism, which I joke is in my blood, my mother told me one little thing that all hardworking, diligent, Protestant parents tell their prodigies: Put yourself out there. Make a name for yourself. Build that resume.
Okay, so that was three ways to say one little thing, but you get my point.
It was on a Thursday. A gray Thursday. No rain, just gray. My classes were over by 4 p.m. and I had gone to the Student Recreation and Wellness Center to hop on the treadmill and shave off some calories from my lunch — a 200-and-something calorie Lunchables I devoured in anthropology while the skateboard dude next to me was leaning on my designated armrest.
My earbuds were blaring over the sound of the treadmill belt and some wise guy dropping weights on the ground because the whole fitness center had to know how heavy he could lift. My phone lit up in the middle of Fifth Harmony and I had an email alert from SOCIETY 19 magazine.
About a week ago, I noticed a flyer in Franklin Hall that read, “Great resume builder.” I snapped a picture of it on my phone thinking, “I’ll take a picture of this now as if I’ll actually apply for the job.” Mom said, “Put yourself out there.” She’s been “out there.” She knows what it’s like. So I figured I’d put myself out there and I’d write.
Back to that miserable treadmill on a gray Thursday.
SOCIETY19 magazine. I slowed my pace, glided my finger tip across my phone screen and checked into my Kent State email — where all of my “professional” business goes. I glanced at the new message and my heart skipped a beat (I probably shouldn’t have been on the treadmill in that case). I was in. A writer — no, an author — at SOCIETY19, the Kent State branch of an online fashion and lifestyle magazine.
What’s my next thought? Finish this last mile? Celebrate with a strawberry-banana smoothie from the REC concession?
Start the story.
But what about that smoothie? Concession stands and fast food smoothies are usually loaded with sugar and not just the healthy sugars found in fruit … so how beneficial is it to have a smoothie after busting your butt on the treadmill for three miles? There, I had my story. What, and why, to eat post-workout.
I sent the story pitch to my editor before finishing up my three miles. On my way out of the REC to Tri Towers dorms, I thought, “where am I going? The story is right behind me!” So I stopped at the REC entrance, stole a paper map and golf pencil from the golf course display out front and ran back inside.
At the smoothie bar, I introduced myself as a writer for SOCIETY19 magazine doing a story on post workout nutrition. I asked the employee (who wished to remain anonymous) about what most students purchase, how healthy she thought the menu items were and what types of snacks the concession offers. Then, I whirled around and jumped on the first customer I saw eating at a table (poor guy, I didn’t mean to jump on him like that). I interviewed him mid-chew of his protein bar.
Within five minutes, I had two sources. What’s so special about that? I got the email saying I was hired only 15 minutes ago, and this was my first time interviewing anybody ever. Of course, I needed an expert source, so I reached out to my on-campus nutritionist who was happy to give me all the information I needed. Within a couple days, I had the story complete and ready for editing before post — a month ahead of deadline.
By blood and in spirit, I’m a writer. As you can see, I also lack patience which is why I make my deadlines ahead of time. And I’m surely not patient enough to wait until I’m 45 years old to write a Twilight remake and get famous, or be discovered only years after my death like a great, ancient poet.
Listen to your parents. Give them credit for living through what you are struggling through now with generational differences aside. Your parents have been with you from the very beginning, have watched you grow and develop into this adult human being and they love you. Unconditionally. Love them back with an open heart and open ears.
From a job flyer and a little piece of motherly advice, I found out that I am a journalist at heart.
I told myself to write, but my mother told me to become a writer.