The Harbinger Online

Becoming a Writer

My interest in writing began when I wrote my first book. It was a rip-off of Bridge to Terabithia, only it was typed in Comic Sans MS and 24-point font. As a third grader, I thought it would become an immediate best-seller. Although the New York Times Book Review never got hold of it, my dreams of becoming a writer weren’t crushed.

Throughout elementary and middle school, I worked to improve my writing skills. By middle school, I’d mastered apostrophes and run-on sentences. By high school, writing essays was a breeze. Yet as a freshman, none of my training beforehand could ever have prepared me for Journalism 1.

Prior to taking Journalism 1, I’d thought I was a pretty good writer. I come from a writing-focused background: my mom is a poet and an English teacher; my step-dad is an architectural writer. My mom always asked to read and edit my papers before I turn them in, and if I wrote a particularly good story I would even share it with my friends. But Journalism taught me that writing was serious business, instead of just smashing your fingers against a keyboard and making words.

Now, I’m not going to say Dow Tate is a dream-crusher. However, my dreams of becoming a screenwriter were dashed when I received my first Tate-graded assignment. It was also the first 68 percent I’d ever gotten on a paper. After the initial heartbreak, I told myself to suck it up and turn my experience into a lesson.

From then on, I strove to become a better writer. Journalism 1 became a writing boot camp for me, and every time I earned a bad grade, I challenged myself to do even better the next time.

One day, on a whim, I decided to apply for The Harbinger. One of my friends was already on staff, and several other friends had already applied. So I picked up an application, stocked my room with Diet Coke and peaches, and worked on it all weekend.

After I turned in my application, I decided to go to the banquet, where the editors would announce all of the positions for next year. By the time they began reading names, I was sweating profusely. I had already convinced myself that I wasn’t going to get the position I wanted, thinking that I’d aimed too high. When they finally read the name of the position I applied for, followed by my name, my heart did a small tap-dance, and my stomach, a few somersaults.

And now, here I am. Let me introduce myself: I’m Susannah Mitchell, and I’m the new Blogs/Opinion Editor for The Harbinger Online. I’ll be editing and uploading the blogs this year — and writing a few of my own along the way. Like taking Journalism 1, being a newspaper staff member is going to be a challenge. But you know what? I think I’m up for it.

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