It’s my third season volunteering at WriteGirl, a creative nonprofit here in Los Angeles. Founded and pioneered by the amazing Keren Taylor, WriteGirl empowers over hundreds and hundreds of local teen girls through creative writing, writing genre workshops, and one-on-one mentoring each year.
WriteGirl is now in its 15th year! That’s 15 years of helping underserved girls find their own voice and cultivating their potential. 100% of girls who go through our mentoring program graduate from high school and go onto college—many not even realizing that’s an option for their futures. 100% of them.
Each of month of the season is a different genre workshop—spanning fiction, poetry, screenwriting, songwriting, you name it. Last Saturday we tackled journalism with around 100 girls, ages 13-18. I was paired with a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed 13 year old, who would doodle these really incredible sketches (mostly of My Little Pony characters, but still truly amazing) when she thought I wasn’t looking. I let her know she should start a cartoon one day and she smirked in return.
As the workshop went through the fundamentals and building blocks of journalism, it was like my muscle memory kicked into action. And I’ve realized I miss it. I miss interviewing people and finding the story. I’ve missed feeling a slight kinship with complete strangers, even if it lasts for a few minutes. I miss being invited into their world, and writing about it. I forgot that spark that drew me to journalism in the first place—the idea that everyone has a story to tell. And someone has to tell it.
We were lucky enough to hear Beverly White, a NBCLA reporter who has over 30 years of reporting experience under her belt, talk about her career and time on the field.
Awesome afternoon w/ news makers & storytellers of the future. @WriteGirlLA is The Truth. Brava! pic.twitter.com/iGS0pN2B9Z
— Beverly White (@BeverlyNBCLA) November 14, 2015
I wish I recorded everything she said. She’s so vivacious and knows everything there’s to know about getting the story. But I happened to scribble these wise words from her:
1. “If it’s not truthful, what’s the point?” —Beverly White
2. “Getting it right is always the job description.”—Beverly White
3. “This is not melodrama, this is real life.”—Beverly White
4. “Every story is big to somebody.”—Beverly White
There was also a panel of women journalists who talked about their careers and gave career tips for writing:
5. “Read, read, read!” (I know this is a simple quote, but it’s true. Reading = become a better writer. P.S., I can’t remember who said this, my apologies!)
6. “Don’t hold yourself back. Don’t make yourself the obstacle. Let someone else be the obstacle and tear that obstacle down.” —Tamara Duricka Johnson, journalist
After hearing all of these wonderful women speak, I’m definitely thinking up more projects for the future—using my curiosity as the driving force. Stay tuned!