Today was my first day at Zyzzyva, I worked from 10 am until almost 3 pm. After I went to Zyzzyva I went to my class at 826 Valencia from 6 to 8. We had guest speaker Beth Lisick come in (it will be another post). Zyzzyva was really fun. I got lost at first but I found where it was. I got to read submissions and I proofread a letter for the editor, Laura. I also logged pieces, which meant I had to put everything in an excel spreadsheet and I had to take the authors name, the title, whether it was poetry or fiction, if they had been published, their zip code, the date and whether they lived on the west coast or not. It was interesting to read peoples cover letters and different phrases they used. One day, hopefully, I’ll be writing a cover letter so seeing this was good practice. After I logged I read different pieces and put them in piles of whether I liked them or didn’t. Oscar and Laura read everything but it was nice to be able to have a little input. After I read I worked on the archiving project so I had to scan every page of Zyzzyva so it can go on the blog. Oscar and Laura are also interested in me doing a review piece for the blog, so I might do an art review piece about an art gallery in the main Library. I felt like I got so much done today and I can’t wait to go back tomorrow.
Why I read them:
Zyzzyva: I’m interning there so having a familiarity with their work is always good.
Journalism Next (and other journalism books): I’m going to be writing articles for a newspaper, maybe even shadowing someone so again, familiarity with their job is key.
The Teen Vogue Handbook: I know this looks silly, but ModCloth is a fashion website, and fashion writing is something I’m interested in. It gave me a lot of tips and when I go in to modcloth I’ll be familiar with their job description.
I’m trying to secure an internship with a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle and The Glen Park news, but before I actually work with her I need to do research about journalism. Aside from participating in the school newspaper (which, has had more names than I’ve been in high school) I don’t have a lot of experience being a journalist. Both my parents are journalists so they tell me what it was like to be a journalist… 20 years ago. The internet has changed journalism, making it easier to get information, but it hasn’t killed it, even though many people believe that it did. Credible information is harder to come by, everybody has an opinion and everybody has a blog, but that does not make them journalists. The books I’m reading (like Heat and Light) gives advice about how to be a journalist in the 21st century. Because getting news is only a click away, it makes it harder to find meaningful news or even break news, it seems like everyone already knows.
Heat and Light was written by Mike Wallace of CBS’s 60 minutes and Beth Knobel a journalism teacher at Fordham. They give the reader advice about how to be a journalist, how to approach a source, how to get information. I could identify with a lot of what they said, although in a different context. I have a learning disability (no surprise to those who know me, I’m very vocal about it) and I need extra support. When the authors were talking about doing research to really know their story it reminded me of approaching a difficult essay or test. I do a lot of research or studying before the final project. When the authors talked about how to approach the people they were interviewing reminded me of how I have to approach people to get the support I need. In journalism (and for me) you have to approach them politely, you have to make sure you get all the information you need because your story (or succeeding in a class) will turn out badly. Sometimes the interviewee (or teacher) will say no and you keep having to ask them and advocate. I’ve had experience doing this in my life so its nice that journalism isn’t completely foreign. Journalism isn’t dead and these authors show you how to succeed in this generation where information is at your fingertips. Not everyone can be a journalist, you have to work hard (something I also have experience with) to get it done.
I love to write, obviously, since I’m pursuing it as my senior project and hopefully my career. Reading others writing sometimes inspires me to write so here is an excerpt inspired by the stories I read in the literary magazine Zyzzyva.
My aunt Loretta sits across from me. Its funny, whenever I pictured a woman named Loretta I always pictured a heavy-set black woman who worked at hospital yelling sassy catchphrases at the nurses. My aunt (or should I say great Aunt) Loretta could not be farther than that. Honestly I wasn’t sure what to expect from my mother’s aunt. After being unceremoniously dumped here by the social worker in a cloud of cheap perfume and diesel, I was just glad to be somewhere warm. Aunt Loretta lives in a colorful bungalow in downtown L.A. located a couple of blocks from a noisy Mexican restaurant where it always seems to be the Cinco de Mayo. It was summer, the sticky heat sticking to my hair and my worn out clothes. The social worker had cranked up the AC to glacial in her dilapidated honda.
“Mrs. Pears?” The social worked had knocked on the door while shouting, her red lips distorting so she could talk. I stand next to her, a duffel bag and borrowed clothes are the only things I have left except my memories. I wait nervously next to her. If Aunt Loretta decided she did not want me I wasn’t sure where I would go. Mama never visited her aunt and I’d never met her.
“Hello!” Footsteps clack towards the screen door and I hold my breath without even meaning to. The woman who greets us is short, shorter than me, but she seems six feet tall. Her hair is white blonde and teased into a giant bouffant on top of her head. She has purple eyes and huge fake lashes outlined by jet black eyeliner. Her lips are fuchsia, outlined by bright red lipliner. She wears a blue and gold gauzy muumuu and six inch high platform sandal with fake flowers on them. She smiles at us and then her face distorts into an oh shit expression
The Zyzzyva literary magazine is filled with stories, essays, plays, poetry and artwork. Each author is different, writing about traveling to California or essays on science and poetry. The one thing the works all have in common is that they are always amazing. Reading the stories and the poems and the essays made me want to be a better writer, these writers seemed on a whole other level of great writing. While it seems crazy that everything can be so good, it was. Every single story and poem I read left me wanting to read more, more of the story, more of the authors work, more of zyzzyva.
I take a class every Monday night at 826 Valencia, a store that sells pirate-themed wares in the front and a writing center in the back. The store has a subtle air of hipster about it (located on Valencia street it is almost a requirement) but is also dedicated to putting out quality writing. The class I take is called Writing and Publishing Apprentices where I work with a tutor every week. When I told my tutor as well as the “teacher” of the class that I had gotten an internship at Zyzzyva they were very excited. The teacher told me, that he was friends with the person I would be interning with. The teacher also told me that he thought Zyzzyva would be a great experience for me. The quality of the work the magazine puts out is the quality I strive for when writing at 826 Valencia. I’m excited to work with such talented people.
My senior project title is Exploring Writing. Senior Project is three weeks where students work on a project, it can be anything, as long as it has a point. I’m interested in writing so pursuing a writing project seemed the best way to go. I will be doing a combination of writing (on this blog and writing an article for a newspaper) and interning at different places. I call it shadowing because I’m not old enough to be an intern, but I will be shadowing a reporter for the Glen Park Newspaper, a fashion writer at ModCloth and a writer/editor at a literary magazine. I’ll keep posting about everything.