The key to writing a good story is knowing what you don’t know and finding the right people and documents to help you learn it. You have a fundamental question that leads to a bunch of other questions that need to be answered so that your fundamental question makes sense. This is how I write.
Newsrooms are full of big egos and journalism is full of people who are highly competitive, which can be good and bad. Some reporters will do whatever it takes to shine, even if it means stepping on a colleague. Some editors are great mentors. Others will not hesitate to criticize you behind your back. If you’re starting out in this business, these are my survival tips.
Success is remembering where I started, acknowledging how far I’ve come, and knowing that I’m the one who decides where the end of my road should be.
So often, our choices are based on priorities and our priorities are set by necessities. There’s what we want to do and what we have to do, and the haves often take precedence. HOW DO YOU SET YOUR PRIORITIES?
Reviews: We’ve all seen them and we’ve all probably bought a book (or more) because of them. Reviews can be powerful, and even if they’re wholly subjective, there’s great value to them. I have been blessed to have received some pretty strong praise for my book so far. But one of them stands out. It’s a review I got from Joe Woyjeck, whose son, Kevin Woyjeck, was among the 19 brave men who lost their lives fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire on June 30, 2013.
These days, we’re almost conditioned to judge actions through a two-dimensional lens – Is he guilty or not guilty? Is she right or wrong? Are they good or bad people? But, I wonder, do we really want our leaders to be oversimplifiers?
I read a book for my daughter on the life of Amelia Earhart, the pioneer aviator who chose to defy conventions (women can’t fly airplanes!) to pursue her dream, doubters be damned. Amelia liked to say, “Never interrupt anyone doing what you said couldn’t be done.” My daughter, who is 6, became very interested in these words – “What does Amelia mean, Mommy?” I told her that Amelia had a dream, believed in her dream, and worked very hard to make her dream reality.
We all have our boxes, invisible walls that limit who we are, how much we can dare. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU STEPPED OUT OF THE BOX?
What have you resolved to do – for yourself, for others – in 2016? Some people agonize over New Year’s resolutions, only to ignore them. Some people set the bar too high, and then get mad at themselves for not keeping their resolutions. Others pick so many resolutions, they end up forgetting them all.
I made one resolution this New Year. It’s etched in my skin.
I chose to be better.
WHERE DO YOU FIND INSPIRATION?
There are two types of people we miss: Those we’ll see again someday soon and those we won’t, at least not in this life. Seventeen years ago, I left my home and home country, Brazil, and unwittingly found a home in these United States. Not a day goes by that I don’t miss the people I left behind – childhood friends, my family – people who love me and whom I love. (In Portuguese, we have a word for this feeling: saudade, pronounced SAH-oo-DAH-jee.) But I know they’re around, just a long flight away.
HOW DO YOU COPE WITH MISSING SOMEONE YOU LOVE?
My “day job” – I cover the Southwest as Phoenix Bureau chief for The New York Times – exposes me to lots of different people, lifestyles and stories. As I like to say, every day at work is another day I learn a new lesson.
I recently interviewed a Kewa Indian named Ruthie Bailon for a profile of homelessness in Albuquerque. Ruthie goes by her tribal name, Cushie. She is a recovering drug addict whose life has taken many sad turns – she has lost her children, her home, her dignity. I asked Cushie, what’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned while living on the streets? “Ask for help,” she told me.
Cushie is now looking for forgiveness. WHAT DOES FORGIVENESS MEAN TO YOU?