Mt Pleasant News
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Neighbors Growing Together | Jan 20, 2018

The tale of finding my passion

By KARYN SPORY, MPN editor | Aug 28, 2015

There was a time when I wasn’t passionate about much of anything. My main goal in life was to get good enough grades that I didn’t have dish duty. In my household, that was a ‘D.’

Then life – the universe – threw me a curve ball and made me realize just how valuable and special life was, and that I should care and be passionate about something, anything. That was also about the time one of my teachers took an interest in me. I’ll never forget the day my high school English teacher said to me, “If you’d learn how to use a dictionary, you’d make a half-way decent writer.”

I hope everyone has that moment in his or her life, a moment when everything just clicks.

If you’ve ever met me, you may be surprised to know that I was once a shy kid. My family would never describe me that way, but my middle school and early high school teachers would agree. You couldn’t get me to voluntarily speak up in class. Even if I knew an answer, I just didn’t want to embarrass myself, so silence was easier. But that all changed once writing came into my life. And more importantly, when I realized I was actually good at writing. I finally felt like I had something to be proud of, a talent that was all my own. And once I had that, my confidence began to grow. I became more animated in class, maybe to the chagrin of a few teachers, and miraculously, all of my grades began getting better. Even math.

When it was time to leave for college I thought I wanted to become a teacher. It had meant so much to me that my English teacher had seen the talent in me and helped me find my confidence; I wanted to do that for someone. However, it was that same teacher that thought my talents would be better utilized in another field. He also reminded me cursing at students was a “no-no” so I should find something better suited for my temper and skill set.

I remember just looking at my teacher. My head cocked to the side and my eyebrows raised. The essential “and what would that be” face.

“I think you need to do something with your writing,” my teacher told me.

When I told him my parents wouldn’t go for me being a starving novelist, he chuckled and said, “What about journalism?”

So that’s what I majored in. After I transferred to the University of Northern Iowa my junior year, I figured I should practice what I’d been learning so I took on some stringer work at The Daily Gate City, in Keokuk during my summer back home.

I remember my first assignment. It was covering Memorial Day services in Keokuk. I showed up an hour and a half early and proceeded to hyperventilate in my car. I was going to have to talk to strangers and ask them questions. What had I gotten myself into? After a lengthy pep talk with myself, I went up to the most official person I saw and basically yelled, “I’m Karyn Spory, I’m working with the Gate City, can I talk to you?” The kind gentleman shook the hand that jaunted out at him and introduced me to whom I should interview, and bada-bing-bada-boom, the next day I had my first published story.

A week after college graduation I was offered a reporter position at the Daily Jefferson County Union in Ft. Atkinson, Wisc. I stayed there a year. I learned so much about my craft and about myself. Moving somewhere on your own, with no friends within 600 miles will do that for you; I believe it also made me stronger. Then, in 2012, I took a job in Columbia, Mo. It was a huge leap up in the market and a lot more pressure. The deadlines were never-ending and I became disillusioned with what I was doing. And I had a nagging question; did I become a journalist because I wanted to or just because it was the best writer option? Also, I wondered what a “normal” nine to five job would be like, so I tried my hand at insurance.

It went well. I was really good at it, but there was just something missing. I didn’t know what it was until I was talking on the phone with one of my best friends while I was driving on I-80 one evening. She was discussing the pressures of doing freelance work for a magazine and complaining about deadlines when I became insanely furious – furious with her, the world, myself. I didn’t know why, but I had to pull over because I just started crying and that’s when it hit me, I missed deadlines. I missed being able to say I was a journalist because people’s eyes glaze over when you say you work in insurance, no offense to anyone, but I’m sure you’ve noticed.

That’s when I figured out that, yeah, maybe I had started on the journalism path because it was suggested by a teacher, but I had stayed with it because it was fulfilling; hard work, but definitely fulfilling. By forcing myself to talk to new sources, I had gotten over my shyness. I had advanced my skill as a writer and I loved meeting new people and getting to learn about their lives. This is what I’m meant to do.

I’m sure you’ve all heard the saying, “If you can do what you love for a living, you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” Well, I’m not sure that’s entirely true. I love what I do, but I also work fiercely hard. I hope you all can tell and I am very honored and thrilled to take this next step in my career and life here at the News as editor.

Please feel free to email me at news@mpnews.net or give me a call if you have questions or concerns about the paper or have a good story idea. I look forward to getting to know you and the community more as I settle into this new role.

 

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