Crosscut's spring Membership drive is rolling right along, and I hope you'll take the time to become a Member or renew your annual membership. Simple to do on the Donate page. Below, I want to talk about what I like about being a writer for Crosscut, and why I like you readers.
But first: We had another generous Member contact us with a new matching pledge of $1,000 for these next few days. (A little of which remains to be matched.) Doug and Kathie Raff are making the match, doubling all donations for the day up to $1,000 so your tax-deductible donation potentially does double-duty. Another incentive for donating this weekend is a drawing for a Dual Membership at Town Hall Seattle, worth $50, and getting you lots of privileges at that wondrous beehive of cultural events. Thursday's prize, a $50 gift certificate at Cafe Paloma in Pioneer Square, goes to Sandra Hill of Seattle.
Those donating $100 or more will get a long-sleeved Crosscut tee shirt, black or Navy. And at the end of the campaign we'll have a drawing for the grand prize: an iPad2. More about Member benefits, including our upcoming Members-free party on April 28, on the Member page.
Now about me: I'll start by confessing that the things I told students during my years as a pretty demanding writing teacher were wasted on me as a writer. It was easy to tell kids who froze in front of the blank page, “Just start writing. Put some words down, and have a conversation with your subject: ‘Hi! I’m glad I ran into you, because I wonder….’ Ask the subject some questions, give it a chance to say something back, and let it start coming alive. Edit for quality later.”
It’s so much easier to give advice than take it. When I was invited to write about why I’m a contributing writer for Crosscut, I thought, how hard can it be to write about something you love doing? … and got totally stuck. Crosscut readers are pretty demanding.
After two days mute I finally sat at my desk and put some words down: “Hi, Crosscut, I’m glad I ran into you, because ... what was it Don Murray said about writing?” I looked up the quote by the journalism teacher and Pulitzer-winning reporter for the Boston Globe: "Each time I sit down to write I don't know if I can do it…. Click the computer on and I am 17 again, wanting to write and not knowing if I can.”
My paralysis lifted.
Crosscut, I’m glad I ran into you, because as a writer here I keep getting to write stories that I'm not sure I’ll be able to write well enough. I get to pursue a subject past the stuck-ness of “not knowing,” into a flow of questioning. I get to write with a healthy sense of my human limitations that would be unacceptable in commercial media featuring cocky pundits. I get to make a subject come alive in my own voice, in paragraphs instead of chopped-up soundbites. And I get to share the result with great readers, who demand a lot from our stories but who also give back.
Thanks to you all.