Wednesday, July 05, 2006

My Byline

My byline has changed. Instead of “Michael Althouse, Colfax Record Intern,” it now reads “Michael Althouse, Colfax Record Staff Writer.” A promotion? It sure feels like it. My editor said in an email to me today that her boss felt that they could not call me an intern because I was (wrote) the whole front page. The way it all happened was odd, to say the least.

Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good? Sure, but nothing beats being lucky and good.

Of course my goal is to be a better writer, to be able to create my own breaks and opportunities. I will also acknowledge, albeit reluctantly, that I am a good writer. In fact, I’ll even say that luck, though perhaps necessary, is never enough. Without the work I have done over the past several months and years to get positioned, the breaks I received of late would be absolutely meaningless.

In hearing the personal accounts of how some journalists got their breaks, it is rare that it was just hard work and education. They all had that “lucky break,” or several. However, equally universal is that they were driven, motivated and in position to capitalize on the breaks as they presented themselves. Such was the case, on a smaller scale, this past weekend.

Colfax had its annual Independence Day celebration on Sunday, July 2nd. Being the small town that it is, many of it’s 1,600 residents had a part in putting on a party that would increase the towns population tenfold for one day. Such was the case with my boss and the other full-time employee – they were participants and it was up to the part-timer and me to “cover” the entire event – the biggest shebang for the entire year.

I was up for it. Scared? Hell yes. The weight of the world, or at least this small piece of it was on my shoulders. Friends would ask what I was doing for the holiday and I responded, “working.” Why would I have to work on the holiday? They didn’t get it. I didn’t have to, I got to – and it was a choice I made. Would it have been covered if I didn’t do it? Probably. As completely? Probably not. Add to the mix that, for whatever reason, the part-timer had little to contribute.

On Monday, July 3rd, I had class in the morning (no, it was not a holiday and no, my friends didn’t get that either) and Monday afternoon I wrote. Monday is usually the deadline, but this week, Tuesday was acceptable. Tuesday, Independence Day, I wrote in the office. Now my friends were just baffled, especially since I was not even getting paid for it. In fairness to them, they could not see what I saw; could not feel what I felt; they had no way of knowing that this is not “work” to me.

The end result was unexpected, but in retrospect not exactly surprising either. I worked my butt off. I walked through the fear. I faced a challenge armed with skills and knowledge that I have been working equally hard at honing. Opportunity knocked and I answered. Now, not only am I a “Staff Writer,” I am even getting paid – at a very, very entry-level amount – for my writing. The amount is not relevant… what is relevant is that I have been paid to write – I am, by definition, a professional writer. Game, set, match.


CyberKitten said...

Lucky, Good AND being paid for it...

Congratulations! You're offically a Professional writer.

How's the Great American Novel coming on?

Surely that's the next stage....

Lacey said...

Mike, I am so proud of you!! Colfax is lucky to have you. :)

Just a bit of gossip about this part of your story: ""My report is that there is nothing to report," said California Highway Patrol spokesman Rich Ruiz."

That is indeed news. I think it was five years ago Colfax had 12 arrests for drinking-related incidents at the festivities.

I look forward to reading more of your stuff!

Ellen said...

Part of being a good writer is the ability to put sentences together that are coherant to the reader, while capturing their interest for more. You do that so very well, and it's no suprise to me that The Colfax Report has noticed your talents and work ethic.

Congrats on the promotion!

Ellen said...

Oh silly me.... I meant: "The Colfax Record".... not "Report". I really should pay more attention when I read things.... sorry!

X said...

I am so proud of you! :)

Look at it this wouldn't have written the entire front page if you weren't good, so luck had nothing to do with it ;)

awareness said...

There's nothing like being immersed in a challenge, especially one that you have wished for and worked hard for the opportunity!

How satisfying for you, Mike.

I'm a strong believer in helping others "catch a break..." because we all have had those helping angels in our lives over the years....the pivotal people. I can name a handful who have helped my career journey. I'll never forget them......

It's the people who put forth the effort and have their own visionary focus that I tend to go the extra mile for in my office when we have practicum students in here. The brightest lights always find their wings faster.......luck at being in the right place at the right time? Maybe,......synchronicity and skill too.

All things happen for a reason.

mckay said...

WOO!!! Congratulations on your new position; one that is surely deserved.

i completely understand what you mean about wanting to work even if you're not getting paid for it. being a non-professional actress means one has all of the responsibility of putting on the best performance possible with no fact there's usually a deficit with buying costumes, makeup, props, etc.. we do it for love of the craft, a small addiction to laughter and applause; certainly not for any financial gain. you’re living your dream. excellent.

i smiled at the phrase: you were the whole front page. you certainly do have the gift of gab. :)

Anonymous said...


I am thrilled for you, but not at all surprised by this, it was just a matter of time.

Just think, when you have your first novel published all of your blog readers can brag that we know you! That reminds me, did I send you the book yet? I need to email you.

Belizegial said...

Congrats on your byline! A true case of preparation meeting up with opportunity and determination. Keep on writing. It is all within you waiting to be released. Peace!

Lee Ann said...

Congratulations! That is awesome Mike. The hard work has paid off.
Enjoy it, I know you will.

Michael K. Althouse said...

ck ~ Ah yes, the Great American Novel... Like my presence in the blogosphere, it's on the back burner - simmering away while the newspaper is on full boil.

lacey ~ thank you so much. Your recommendation has a lot to do with my current good fortune.

ellen ~ thank you so much. my only regret is that time doesn't allow me to write for my blogs like it used to. I'll say this, reporting can be very physically exhausting. Who knew??

katie ~ the luck part was in the part-timer dropping the ball. She could have and should have had the main stories. Her loss - my gain.

awareness ~ Samuel Goldwin said: "The harder I work, the luckier I get." Truer words never spoken.

mck ~ at least in written form;-') I understand that deficit. The pay I am receiving is less than minimum wage if divided by the hours spent. Much less. But it probably pays for gas and food - almost. It is a huge milestone though... almost a - mileboulder? Press pass is next!!

barb ~ what does "GDWYBS" mean??

Yea, you can say you knew me way back when...

beliz ~ Thanks, I really do appreciate the support.

lee ann ~ I like the new pic! OK, so it's not that new anymore (I've been around, just quiet). Thank you so much;-')

mckay said...

press pass? cool. are you gonna get one of those brown felt hats in which to stick it?

Biker Betty said...

Congratulations Michael!!! You deserve it.

Snaggle Tooth said...

I finally made it back over to catch-up on "25" n give ya a better comment number.
Congrats on all the up-grades. Read your front page n looks like you're doin a very good job.
I had to work through the 4th week celebrations also.
But ya do realize already, when ya luv what you're doin, it's not "work" it's career-