I should start by saying this issue is in its third iteration. I created two other drafts. I titled them, laid out their structure and even included meaningful snippets of my life.
But this is the thing I feel I need to write today. It feels most urgent—this topic-idea-thought-essay.
A runner runs. A coder codes, A writer writes. And a journalist, a journalist tells stories. So why can’t I tell any stories? Why don’t I know how to do this?
Incase you are new here: My name is Mo Isu. I am an audio producer based in Lagos, Nigeria. I am currently attempting to build a career in audio journalism. I have taught myself everything I know so far. You are reading issue 2 of my newsletter detailing this segment of my journey. It heavily features my time at my current company (Voix Collective)
Why don’t I know how to make stories?
This issue is late for many reasons but one of them is that even though I have this idea to talk about this thing, I don’t seem to actually know how to talk about it. I don’t know what to say about it. Where to start, how to proceed, and where to end. In many ways, this is also how I have been feeling about storytelling.
There’s a feeling I get when I encounter journalism done by ‘actual’ journalists. The feeling is first a feeling of awe. I am in awe of them, of the work they have done, of the thoroughness. I read their stories and think of how welldone it is. I think of the mechanics of it, of the research, of the quotes and how they are used, of the characters in the stories. And then I start to wonder about questions.
How did they find this story?
How did they find the characters?
How were they able to get them talk?
Were they nervous? Were they tired? This is a lot of work.
Did they doubt themselves?
Journalists do journalism. They have byline after byline in prestigious places.
They pitch stories to editors and then do those stories. They talk to people and read books.
Especially with some of my favourite journalism pieces, I can’t help but think about how intelligent these people are. Look at all the things they know. Look at all the things they are able to say about this story. Look at the lines they are able to draw from this one thing to this other thing.
Eventually I will compare myself and I will realise, I am not those people. How can I too call myself a journalist?
In this issue, this is the thing I am working on. The confidence. In knowing what I am, what I want to be.
I figure that I could think for a long time about what I am not. Or, I could try to be the thing I want to be able to say I am.
I want to do stories and the only way to do them is to try. So I created a list of things I need to do to get over this weird doubt of what I am supposed to be. At the end of this list of things, I want to have made a commissioned story for a podcast. At the beginning of this list, I will be reading stories, essays and articles.
My plan is divided into two. For the first part, I want to write an essay or story for a publication of news website. I figure written stories are slightly less effort and why don’t I try that. The first four steps are these:
Read stories/ learn from them
Make list of publications
Make list of ideas
Write and send a pitch
I will keeping you up to date on this on a new sub series - Road to my first byline.
You can help me on this by sending me the last interesting thing you read!
This is where I will end today’s issue.
The next issue will be in your email inbox in two weeks. I have been working on an essay about talking to strangers and about a peculiar disconnect I sometimes feel when talking to people with different cultural backgrounds.
Thank you for reading today’s issue
I like girls is a podcast about African women that I do sound engineering for. Episodes for its second season are currently airing weekly.
I was the stringer for this BBC Sporting Witness’s story about a footballer that got stuck in Syria.
Read the about page for Act Two, I am proud of it
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