Something like a Boondoggle

I’m almost done preparing the stuff to be given to the next academic year’s editor-in-chief, a position I obviously wasted.

Well, I may have failed, but I did my best from the very start. It pains me to decide whether I have to hold on to this publication until its release, or let go since it became a boondoggle, an impractical project that wastes time and money. But in the end, I eventually surrendered because it almost felt like I was the only one believing that its content will be published. I am a victim of a faltering spirit of volunteerism.

Last week, I emailed articles to our adviser and told him that the failure of our publication will mark the worst failure in my entire college life, or academic life perhaps. It was Sunday night, and when he returned the articles the following night, he told me that it was not the end. It was not even Thursday yet and I still had a few days to work on it, and probably lead it to its materialization online – yes, online. That gave me a spark of hope, but it’s not enough for I know that even on that moment, I was barely hanging on.

I apologized to my friends from the society who funded us because they prioritized us amid their difficult financial situation. I knew that it was a very tough year for them, that they kept on working with a very little amount of money at hand, or sometimes none at all. They were handling debts incurred from the previous administration, and a failure of a certain project. And I felt truly grateful because they raised funds, even just for ONE issue, for our publication. After all, like me and some of my friends, they believe that it is ironic for the society not to spend money for a publication when the students belonging to that society are aspiring writers… oh, journalists! I felt bad when I learned that we had to return the money because we didn’t meet the deadline for the expense report, but I felt worse because it felt like I also failed them. Instead of funding other projects, they decided to prioritize us… but to no avail.

I also talked to our former editor. He was the one who told me what I needed to know, considering my raw experience in the world of story conferences and press works. He was the one who was always ready to lend a helping hand. I told him that we were planning to make an online edition of the publication instead, and told him how sorry I was for not succeeding. And he said, “Okay lang yan. Nangyayari talaga yan. Kahit gano ka kadriven pero di din kasing tindi ng ineexert mo ang ineexert ng ibang mga kasama mo, pwede talagang mangyari yan. Wag ka na malungkot. Basta kung alam mo you did your part, that’s more than enough.”

People may think that after knowing that failing the publication was understandable, I will give up. Probably because it leads to nowhere. Probably because the people whom I owe some things believed that trying was more than enough. But that didn’t stop me. Because my feelings were encapsulated in the lyrics of Coldplay’s song “Fix You” goes, “when you try your best but you don’t succeed.”

I still wanted to try. I still wanted to work it out. I still wanted to show them, the people who believed that I can do it, that I was worthy of their trust.

But where do you draw the line between holding on and letting go?

Our publication is more than just a publication to be cited in my résumé soon after. When I took the qualifying exams and passed, I felt lucky and unsure. But my editors during that time were really supportive, and from them I learned a lot of lessons. I learned how the editors and writers both learn through a continuous exchange of articles, non-stop revisions, endless editing. I learned how to look for a news worthy story and how to commit. I learned how important story ideas are, and how much learning both the writers and editors get from the actual news writing practice. The following editorial board taught me how important story conferences and press works are, among other things. Practical things. And although quitting came to my mind, I never did. I realized that my experience in that publication helped me in managing course-related publications – newsletters, community newspapers, magazines, and believe me, even scripts for broadcast news. I learned how poorly written my stories were, and how to re-angle them. I received my first, personal, and worst criticism just a few months before I became an editor. The publication is my first actual experience that taught me my first practical lessons in the field, and it became helpful in my internship, and other involvements. It was very beneficial as I worked my way towards the end of my chosen degree.

Joining other publications crossed my mind. I passed the first screening of the school’s major publication, twice. But for some reasons, I wasn’t able to attend the second screening, twice. I took the exam of our faculty’s publication, but I did not qualify. So what else do I have but this publication? There is no money as a driving force here… there is only the passion to write, and the eagerness to hone your skills vis-à-vis volunteering. It’s a volunteer work, and not all people like that.

I thought beginning early, organizing story conferences, spearheading qualifying examinations, researching story ideas and all the other stuff I thought I need to do will suffice. But in the end, it’s not enough, because this was not a one-man show and no matter how eager I was to publish something, be it in print or online, it wouldn’t materialize if it’s just me and a few other writers. What we needed was a reinforcement. What we needed was a real spirit of volunteerism. What we needed was people who were willing to work until the end without expecting anything in the end. But there’s a learning experience, which perhaps was the bonus part.

I failed the publication. I failed as an editor. And it hurts to let go of my first practical application outside my academic subjects.

Thank you, Jlese, for all the learning experiences. Thank you to my friends who never stopped encouraging me, and listening to my rants. Thank you for telling me that my efforts, although wasted, are still worth it. Thank you for the unceasing understanding whenever I lose my temper, whenever I scream the failure, whenever I feel like I was the worst editor in the entire society, in the entire faculty. Thank you for the other editors for bearing with my nagging and my demands, for not getting mad at me (at least to my knowledge). Sorry because I made you feel that we did was not enough. But really, it’s not. We could have done better. I know, we could.

Thank you to the next chief editor of our publication for the non-stop support, for listening, and for believing in me. Thank you for all your wonderful ideas and plans for next year, the year that our publication will hopefully rise again. Thank you for understanding how it pains me that my term as an editor was a failure. If there’s one person I’d like to thank a little too much, it would be you because although I oppose some of your ideas, and criticize some of your moves, you never stopped listening. Your support is not waning, your eagerness to pursue the publication’s release is superb. I couldn’t think of anybody more deserving and trustworthy than you. “sige ate claire. tonight, we cry for our shortcomings, but tomorrow, we’ll stand up to fight yet again. :)))” – Thank you. Thank you.

Good bye Jlese. Given the chance, I’d be glad to work on you again. If only…

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