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Phil in the Blank A column by Phil Custodio


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February 06, 2013 - The time had arrived at last. I always knew it was possible, and now it had.

I was on the other side of the notepad. Tables were turned. The shoe was on the other foot, or feet.

I was faced by a panel of journalists with a list of questions.

I braced for the first one: How did you become interested in writing?

Excellent question, I thought.

"Well," I said, "when I was in the army I found I liked to write, so then when I went to college I looked at everything you could do with writing and decided to… um…"

"…in… the… army," wrote the student journalist in her notepad.

She'll get faster. She has years of note-taking practice ahead of her. For me, high school was when it really kicked into gear.

I still have history, English literature, science, etc. notebooks filled with scribbles that look a lot like they do now. Some words trail off into an indistinct scrawl as I dozed off. I don't do that as much now.

I'm assuming students still take notes in high school, not using some sort of I-pad app to record, transcribe, print and deliver their notes for them.

So for those Bailey Lake Elementary students, working on their first newsletter, I was their first victim, er, interview subject. They needed advice on their endeavor and thought I fit the bill.

"You write newspapers too," they told me.

I gave them what I could.

Write about what you and your readers are interested in. Grab the reader with the first paragraph. Write that first paragraph last.

Some other advice: Don't stare at a blank screen or notepad. Just write something – even if it's "something" written over and over.

I hope they succeed.

There will always be a need for reporters, or bloggers, or whatever they're called, to put people in the hot seat and ask questions that need asking.

Though by the time these students are my age, they could probably send their I-drones out to interview people on three-dimensional video for simultaneous display through subscribers' cranial implants.

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