By Dan Teano
Former Lifestyle Editor
My first experience with The Elm was not a positive one. In fact, after seeing my article in print, I wanted to quit immediately. I couldn’t, though. I needed to write and also, I needed to be forced to do so.
If it wasn’t for my friend, Faith, who I met during the Transfer Student orientation, I would’ve never showed up to the Monday meeting. I was reluctant—journalists write news-related articles while my style is way more casual. Luckily, there was a section that fit my interests and manner of writing.
When the section editors introduced themselves, I remember shaking my head after each one. “News—” definitely not; “Opinion—” nope; “Student Life—” close; “Lifestyle—” wait, what? I had no idea The Elm had a Lifestyle section. This section was literally me in two pages—a mix and match of interests in fitness, fashion, relationships, and pop culture.
So I followed the section editor back towards the little, yellow room. There, she assigned article ideas and mentioned a special little column about love and sex Lifestyle has been running since last year called “A Goose and a Gander.” Kala then said that she needed a male writer to be the “Gander,” and since I was the only guy in the room, naturally, all eyes directed towards me. How convenient. I knew a thing or two about love—mostly from my own mistakes—so I agreed.
My first article was a banger. Kala told me to write about “sexiling,” (kicking your roommate out to have sex) and I went all in. I was painstakingly descriptive and overtly sexual. After I sent her my masterpiece, I was convinced I had just written the best story The Elm has ever seen. Of course, that all changed when I saw my article in print on Thursday.
My article was nothing like what I had submitted. My jokes were cut out and my grotesque sexual descriptions were omitted. How could this be? I wanted to quit. I was going to until I realized my lack of putting down useful words was my fault. This instance sums up my experience here at The Elm as both a staff writer and section editor for Lifestyle. For the past two years, I’ve learned how to give practical advice on fitness, fashion, and relationships while cutting out the fluff and flowery language. Editing for Lifestyle taught me that meaningful writing (i.e. writing that ends up in the paper) seeks to offer value to the reader and cares little about showing off.
I want to say thank you to Kala, Melissa, all the section and copy editors from last year and this year for making me a better writer, thinker, and person. I know I don’t say much during meetings and layout, but that’s partly because I approach my work with a student mentality. I have so much to learn still and I admit, there’s so much to improve on, too.
Again, thank you Elm for fine-tuning my literary craft—and above all, thank you for giving me the opportunity to share what I know about life with the WC community. After writing for two years for this section, I think I finally found my style.