One of the biggest challenges in writing a column for me is trying to decide what to write about that will be informative, interesting, not offend anyone, fill enough space without rambling on forever, and most importantly, produce a completed piece that I'm confident enough with to publish. Something that can/will be read by many people, a personal creation that will be judged by people I've never met -- a column is more than just another story in the paper, it's a look into the author's mind, an analysis of his or her thoughts.
Thinking about that makes the idea of writing one of these slightly more difficult, but it's not a good enough excuse for someone who's been writing for years to ignore her column, which is why you're reading this right now.
(One point to me for taking the first step in following through with a commitment -- not a huge accomplishment, but hey, it's a start.)
I've been working at the Star on and off since 2011, beginning again last February when I left my previous job. In the last 11 months I've done, seen, learned, and accumulated more responsibilities here than I ever have in the past -- I've become more reliable, hardworking and serious about my job, and it's good to know I'm really contributing to the Star Eagle.
Yet despite all the people I've come to know through the Star, it's surprising to me that I still meet people frequently who don't know that I write articles/a column for the paper. Most of these people are met during the weekly paper run, such as regulars at local businesses that receive the Star, which partially explains it. I mean, why would you assume that a delivery girl is also a staff writer?
Then again, my picture is on my column, which has caused a couple people to recognize a familiar face -- but I've only written 29 columns since my first one in July of 2011, an effort (or lack of) that I'm less than satisfied with. Perhaps if I succeed in my goal to keep writing this regularly, more people will make the connection. Just more motivation, right? I need all that I can get.
Speaking of my first column -- I'd been meaning to reread my oldest columns, and after months of avoiding it and a deadline looming I finally pulled up the archives on our website and started the walk down memory lane, hoping to find some inspiration.
The first column I wrote for the Star was short and simple, and it was interesting to see just how much my life and writing have changed since then. I've always been a shy person which is obvious as I read my 17-year-old self's words; my self-consciousness has held me back numerous times, but I've definitely made progress in the last four years. You just can't let the fear of failure suppress your potential for success.
It's a little embarrassing for me to read my old work, but I have very high expectations for myself. What's the point of doing something if you're not going to give it your all, put in the effort to make it great? But I need to cut myself some slack, too. Not everything is going to be the best, and that's okay.
It's crazy to see how much different my life was in 2011 compared to now, and because I have changed a lot since then, I decided to re-introduce myself to our readers and let you get to know the person I've come to be (or introduce myself to those who didn't see my first column).
Jessika (legally, it's spelled with a "c" instead of a "k," but I've been spelling it this way for almost ten years now) Leigh Lutgens, 21 years old, and as of recently I live in Waseca. I'm a middle child -- my older brother Nathan is 22, and Eli is 17, currently a junior at NRHEG. I graduated from NRHEG in 2012, and currently my main focus is my job here at the Star Eagle. When I'm not working, I like to draw, do nail art (fingernail polish designs), and DIY projects. Music is one of my favorite things in the world, and the best way for me to clear my head is to go on a drive and turn the volume up loud enough to drown out my thoughts. I absolutely love concerts, and go to them regularly -- I haven't gone a full year without attending a concert since before high school.
And yes, I really do enjoy writing, and have since I was very young. I consider myself incredibly lucky to be given the opportunity to do what I love at such a young age, and I plan on continuing to improve as a writer/reporter, although what I've always planned on doing is to write a book (although I figure if I can actually get a full book written, others will follow). I still plan to, and think about it almost every day, but the best writing cannot be forced. Inspiration will strike, and the words will come. Until then, I keep mental notes, and have written various pieces that I'll gather when I do finally start that project.
I'm not really sure what else to say; if you have any questions for me, please feel free to ask! I love hearing feedback on my writing, both articles and columns, and it helps me to improve and produce better items for you to read.
And on my final note, I just want to thank everyone that has supported the Star Eagle and helped make it a publication that our communities can be proud of. Our columnists, contributing writers, advertisers, subscribers, readers, and anyone else that has shown their support for this paper. We wouldn't be here if it weren't for you, and your continued contribution and support is appreciated.