It never gets old, or at least, it hasn’t yet.
Making words come together to look and sound nice on a print or online page, man, it’s quite a feeling. Last month, my university’s newspaper, The Daily Targum, printed a letter I wrote as a response to what happened here. Also last month, SLAM published my story about Morgan State University’s guard Justin Black.
(All this talk about months, where have I even been? This post was in draft mode for a good while. It started out with the word “month” in the paragraph above being “week” and “day.” And then time continued to do what it does, and now it’s March 11.)
When I interviewed Justin Black over the phone, I felt I could relate to him. Obviously, we’re on two very different paths, but being seniors in college, enjoying what’s left of this stage in life before figuring out exactly what’s coming next—those were our shared experiences. That’s the cool thing about interviewing, you find something in common with a person when you least expect it.
I interviewed SLAM’s Ed-in-Chief, Ben Osborne, for a school assignment last fall, and I had a similar feeling. There was a connection. He told me about his college reporting days and working his way up to becoming a professional in the media world. At the end of the interview, he smiled and said I’m doing a lot of the things he did. Even though he did way more, his comment resonated. Some years ago, he was SLAM’s intern. Then time flew by as it tends to do, and now he’s the distinguished Sir Ed.
I found commonalities when I met Jerry Walker in November, too. I learned he was a religion minor in college, and he said his career highlight moment occurred in his journalism class, another instant connection. Not to mention being a New Jersey native, loving basketball, and dedicating time and energy for community service (something I was more involved in during high school). The efforts he put forth to provide an after-school program for children in Jersey City in a proper building reminded me a lot of what my schooldays were like with all the work put forth to build an accommodating, independent, and permanent facility.
Over winter break, I spoke with Tiffany Mitchell at the University of South Carolina. She’s a girl in college who loves basketball, like me. Unlike me, she’s super talented at playing the sport, which is why SLAM featured her in its latest issue. The list doesn’t end there. I found a connection with everyone I interviewed for a story or school assignment. It didn’t matter if the interview was over the phone with a coach, via Skype with an author in Australia, or in person at Rutgers—I learned there are connections waiting to be formed everywhere.
Conducting interviews made my heart race when I first declared my major a few years ago. My stomach filled with butterflies and my voice shook. Now, I still get butterflies, but they’re way more tame—caused by a little nervousness, but a little excitement too.
Then transcribing those conversations, putting them in a sleek order, and sprinkling my commentary in between is when it all comes together. Some sentence a person said becomes a quotable genuinely enlightening moment. It becomes a smooth transition between paragraphs. It becomes a powerful lead or a perfect close to bring a story full circle.
And when that story comes full circle and it’s published for all readers to see, quietly carrying all those connections in its subtext with the true value known only to the writer—
Yeah, that writer’s on Cloud 9, and it hasn’t gotten old up there.