The showdown of me versus my potential has begun.
And I’m ready to fight.
After playing life the safe way, it’s time to shake things up and see what I can do.
Am I ready?
Well, I have no choice.
After my first three-hour class, I found my inner monologue swirling and buzzing with lines reminiscent of a metaphor-obsessed motivational speaker.
How does a class have that effect?
I suppose it’s what happens when you’re left staring your strengths, weaknesses, vices and passions right in the face. All at the same time.
Days after that first class, I still remember it vividly. I remember stumbling in without a real notion of what we’d be doing. I thought the extent of Digital Storytelling would be something like making PowerPoint slides and voice-overs — obviously, I didn’t think this through. I remember wanting to sit towards the front so I could be attentive and listen utilizing the best strategy I know: by making direct eye contact. And then, I remember regretting this decision. Because, if you constantly make direct eye contact with your professor, you’re begging to be called on. And I sealed my fate; I was called on by Professor Lowe multiple times, and I sufficiently stumbled over my words in 65 percent of my replies.
As the class continued, and as the professors expressed their high expectations for us, I felt fueled with inspiration. Professor Lowe told us repeatedly, “You will be as proud as what you produce in this class as anything you have ever done.” And I believed him. I still do. But, I was also left wondering if I was already starting off behind. The only experience I have in shooting video, capturing audio and making edits is from a TV production academy in my first two years of high school. And I have basically no news-writing experience. And my undergraduate degree was in education, with all of my internships and journalistic experience/skills being crammed into one year.
I felt myself slumping into my chair more and more, feeling overwhelmed, disheartened and incompetent. I slouched all the way home, feeling defeated. “I don’t know if I can do all of this. I’ve never gone out in public to find a story. These professors are expecting projects that I’m nowhere near prepared for. I’m going to let them down and let myself down.”
And I finally made it to my bed. I lay there, staring at the wall in front of me and hearing my nasty ego shoot out poisoned statements about how I’m not ready for this. For a while, I listened to them. And I believed them.
Begrudgingly, I cracked open our textbook "Aim for the Heart: Write, Shoot, Report, Produce for TV and Multimedia" by Al Tompkins.
As I started reading, another voice interrupted and shot up from my heart itself. “Straighten up, woman. You’re a storyteller. You’ve been one for your whole life. You spent your entire childhood writing short stories and creating comic strip sagas for imaginary characters. Any chance you got, you found a little nook to set up shop and toil out epic adventures of fictitious mammals and talking fruit. You started a dream journal in fifth grade. You’d invite your best friend over to film interviews and make commercials for household products. You started a journal of your life when you were thirteen and it continues to tell the story of your life up to this day. Storytelling is in your blood. It flows through your veins.”
And I realized: That makes me stronger than the most technically savvy, but most mundane, uninspired journalists out there. Sure, I’ve never practiced professional storytelling through the mediums of video and audio, but I’m eager to learn. When I get out into the real world, this could truly be something I want to pursue.
Already, just from the readings and one class, I've learned a ton. Some of my key takeaways are:
Overall, the themes I’m seeing about being an effective multimedia storyteller are:
The work in this class will be hard and it will challenge me no doubt, but I have faith that I will grow more than I can even conceive at the moment. Although I’m starting at the bottom, I believe in myself, and I believe the passion I have for telling stories will be the fuel I need when the going gets tough.
Because I’m scared, because I’m sitting here facing a future semester filled with unknowns, because I’m being thrown out of my comfort zone, I know this is exactly where I need to be.
I have a feeling this class won’t just answer my questions on how to tell a good story. It will show me how to live one.
Tompkins, A. (2018). Aim for the heart: write, shoot, report and produce for TV and multimedia.
Thousand Oaks, CA: CQ Press.