Perhaps a feeling that only fellow writers can share, writing can have its emotional moments.
Often readers find that they feel different emotions,sadness, happiness, whatever the case may be, when reading a writers’ work — that’s when it’s said that the writer has properly done their job.
When a writer feels that emotion when putting their words on paper (or on computer), though, that’s when (hopefully) that emotion will definitely translate in print, invoking the same emotion to those who read it.
I had one of those “emotional writing” moments this week — a few times.
It began when I was given the assignment to track down memories. Memories of those who recalled the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
As a typical millennial, my first thought was to ask for people to share their memories on the Gazette’s Facebook page. My editor, of course, considered that those who are old enough to have been alive during the tragedy may not use social media, and put a call out in the print edition of our paper, too.
Before I knew it, I had more than 100 emails, Facebook comments and letters, from those who remembered the day like it was yesterday, piled on my desk.
I couldn’t believe how many people were so willing to share their stories — some that had met the president when he visited Indiana, Pa., campaigning in 1960, some that had considered him the greatest president to have ever been in office and some that attended his funeral later that week with thousands of other Americans in Washington, D.C.
It was moving to read these submissions, and be able to relate to some of them even though I was born close to 30 years after the incident; to imagine these Gazette readers as young adults, teenagers and children hearing the news on their school loudspeakers, watching the funeral on television with their parents and to imagine the students at the school I attended, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, silently and solemnly walking through campus after hearing the news of the president’s death.
A woman, who became a major part of the story I wrote, came in to the Gazette with photos, as well as a poppy that JFK had given her from his lapel when he was campaigning. Though it seems insignificant, on the 50th anniversary of his death, it was moving to be able to hold the small, red flower that had once been so close to the president’s heart.
After days of waiting and reading as submissions continued to come in, I began to write. I remember being overwhelmed by all of the submissions, and wondering which I would use in my story, but when I started to type, the words just flowed. And flowed. Until next I knew it, I had 45 inches of text — which if you work in the newspaper business you’ll understand is quite a bit.
When all was written, and I told the stories that could be told, I had a piece of work that I was actually proud of. Something that I will remember and save in my portfolio forever. It was exciting to see this article published in the paper that day.
Best yet, those that I quoted and interviewed expressed their praise for the story after it was published — something that rarely seems to happen. Something that lets me know that the story moved them as much as it moved me to write it.
You can read the story here.