My journalism professors at the University of Alabama often encouraged us to pitch story ideas to a range of publications, even if those ideas were developed in the classroom. I’ve never been particularly quick to step up and tell someone why I deserve their attention, and so interviewing folks for those classroom assignments was intimidating. (I still get nervous before many interviews, even a decade later!) Approaching editors about publishing my work was even more so.
But my spring 2004 review writing class, taught by Alabama Public Radio book reviewer and University of Alabama professor emeritus Don Noble, left me with plenty of material. Dr. Noble required us to review something weekly; sometimes our focus was restaurants, sometimes books, other times, music. I sent several of my assignments on to the student newspaper, The Crimson White. And I suspected I could do more still.
Getting published in Relevant magazine was one of my goals, and so I sent an email out into the ether, pitching a book review I wrote for class. After a round of heavy editing, which cut the review from several hundred words to about 50, my first national piece was ready to go. I was interning in Orlando when the magazine finally hit stands, and my friends shared in my excitement. The paycheck wasn’t much ($10, if memory serves), but I was still thrilled to be compensated for doing something I loved.
Ten years later, I still write about both books and music. Although seeing my name in print has become a regular occasion, the thrill never wears off.