“Go after that dream, even if it’s to write.” — Regina Brett.
I was introduced to the work of columnist Regina Brett during a field experience in a journalism class at Solon High School and I have been reading her columns weekly ever since.
I try to take the lessons I learn from Brett and apply them in my own writing. There are stories everywhere waiting to be discovered and more importantly, told.
“Creative inspiration can come from anywhere. It’s all around you, though most of us are too busy worrying, planning, texting, phoning or talking to notice. The human propensity for missing inspiration is a real shame, especially for writers, who often go far out of their ways to seek such inspiration, forgetting that much like Dorothy’s ruby slippers, it’s right there under their noses,” said author Marion Roach Smith.
Brett shares this philosophy. All you have to do is open your eyes, look around you and really listen to what people are saying. One question can open the world up, Brett said.
Previous to her work at The Plain Dealer, Brett worked as a columnist for the Akron Beacon Journal for seven years.
Over the course of her career, Brett had written more than 2,000 newspaper columns.
Brett has been writing professionally since 1986. She began writing columns in 1994. She has received numerous national and state writing awards.
Earlier this month, Brett took a voluntarily layoff from The Plain Dealer, but will still continue to write columns.
“The column will look and sound the same,” Brett said in her column entitled “My decision.”
“New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman once said columnists are either in the heating business or the lighting business. You can put heat on people or shine the light. I prefer to shine the light, and will continue to do so in my columns, books and radio show.”
Brett said she made the decision to take the voluntary layoff because the paper planned to cut about a third of the newsroom staff.
“Our newsroom is full of talented, dedicated, passionate journalists,” Brett said in her column. “By taking the layoff and leaving behind a lot of my salary and all of my benefits, I could save someone else’s job. By writing one column instead of two every week, I could focus more on writing books, giving speeches, hosting my weekly radio show, seeing my three grandbabies and just breathing in life a little deeper.”
Brett said that, “After much prayer and reflection, the decision seemed like the right thing to do for me, my family, the paper and for my colleagues.
“I call it a win-win-win-win,” she said.
In a column published on Sept. 21, 1997 she wrote a letter to a young woman named Diana about her desire to become a writer. Diana’s mother met Brett at a church hall meeting at the Women’s Club in Wadsworth.
“She sounded so proud of you for knowing what you want to do with your life. Her face lit up when she talked about how you’re always writing,” Brett said. “But she said everyone around you is discouraging you from pursing what you love. There are no jobs, people have told you. There is no money in it, they have warned you. There is no room in the world for your voice, they have challenged you. They told me the same thing fifteen years ago.
“Don’t become a writer, you’ll never be able to pay the rent. Don’t become a writer, newspapers are a dying industry. Don’t become a writer, the world already has too many. Like you, it was hard not to listen. What did I know? I had more desire than actual talent, so I simply listened to the desire and let it rule me,” Brett said.
The road to becoming a writer was rocky. It wasn’t easy for Brett to pay the rent. She had an editor who was fond of “ripping a story to shreds, literally — with the pieces falling to your shoes — if he did not like it.”
Brett said that they are saying that newspapers are dying.
“They are always saying that newspapers are dying. No one knows for sure what lies ahead. The people who cautioned me, like those cautioning you, were older than me and made me fearful of this career choice. They understood the economy, the laws of supply and demand, and the complexities of the job market. But they didn’t know what was in my heart, and they don’t know what is in yours,” she said.
Brett said she decided to write this column to Diana because, “There are hundreds of others out there like us. Not all of them want to be writers. Some of them want to be artists or architects or dentists or actors or ministers or carpenters. Someone out there is discouraging them, or has already discouraged them, from going after their heart’s desire.”
Diana’s mother confided in Brett that she wanted to be an artist but ended up studying chemistry and hated it. It wasn’t until she was middle aged that she returned to school and is finally doing something that she loves; working as a draftsman.
Brett told Diana to not listen to the critics.
“The world is full of them,” she said. “My guess is the critics are the same people who didn’t go after their own dreams and feel that pain every time someone like you goes after your own. There is room in the world for your voice. Writing is like music. There never can be too many songs. Someone out there who hates country music loves rap and vise versa. The person who is moved by William Shakespeare may hate John Grisham. There’s room in the world for your writing because someone out there needs it. Sure, the world is full of writers. But most of them are wannabe writers, people who talked away their novels while downing shots at a bar because they’re too afraid to risk failing. Go after your dreams while you know what they are and have a whole life ahead of you to live them,” Brett said. She ended the column with a quote from an unknown author; “You only have one life to live, but if you live it fully, who needs another one?”
As the returning editor-in-chief of the Buchtelite, I am well aware of the harsh and perhaps even terrifying realities facing the newspaper industry today. But more importantly, I’m grateful for every day I get to write and thrive in being in an environment of people who feel the same way as I do. I learn so much from listening to and telling the stories of others.
I believe that as long as there are still people out there with a passion for writing and keeping the newspaper industry alive that industry will never die. So I am going to take the thoughtful advice of Regina Brett and stop thinking of excuses of why I can’t write or how not to write, and just write.
Last fall, I began working at the Buchtelite as the news editor. I am a communication major with focuses in journalism and public relations, so this seemed like the perfect position for me to gain experience before graduating. Over the past year, I have been taught about the value of hard work, dedication and teamwork.
Most importantly, I learned about the importance of getting involved. The Buchtelite was the first organization that I became a part of on campus and I did not expect just how important it would become to me. Working here has lead to lifetime friendships and opened my eyes to just how much goes on around The University of Akron’s campus.
The Buchtelite has been at The University of Akron more than 120 years. Over the years, many students have worked for the paper, holding discussions with university officials and students alike. While many changes have occurred over those years, our goal remains the same: to inform students and make a difference.
If any student is looking to get involved I would urge them to contact us at the Buchtelite. You never know what it will lead to.
Buchtelite News Editor
I was so excited to get offered a job at the Buchtelite this summer. After spending the previous three months applying for boring retail jobs, I was thrilled to receive such an amazing opportunity. Finally, I have a job where I can do what I love. Writing is my passion in life and I’m hoping that this is the start of an amazing writing career. I will also be gaining tons of experience as an editor, which will be very valuable for me.
This job gives me the chance to gain experience that I desperately need in order to get internships and jobs after graduation. After only a week, I’ve already learned so much and have enjoyed every minute of it. I really feel like I’m doing what I’m supposed to do with my life and it’s amazing.
As a commuter, I often feel disconnected from college life and the university itself. But working for the Buchtelite has already helped me get more involved on campus. I know more about what’s going on at UA than I ever have before. It makes me feel like I’m contributing to something great and has helped me realize how important student organizations like this are.
The Buchtelite helps keep students in the know regarding all things on campus like sports, news and events. It also provides them with fun articles and interesting topics to entertain them. The Buchtelite gives students a chance to get their voice heard by writing for the paper. The editors and page designers gain opportunities and experiences that they can’t get anywhere else.
It truly is an amazing place to work and a wonderful part of The University of Akron.
Buchtelite Opinion Editor
Coming from a high school of 2,000 to a college of 30,000, I did not want to get lost in the crowd. I did not want to just go to class, sleep and repeat. I wanted to be involved. I wanted people to be able to recognize my name and to not be just another face on the street.
I joined the Buchtelite not only to get myself involved on campus, but to also have my voice heard and my ideas seen by my peers. I wanted the opportunity to make a connection with the student body and being on the Buchtelite staff has given me just that.
Being a newspaper run by the students for the students, the Buchtelite brings Akron’s large campus closer together through breaking news, controversial opinions and flashy pictures. The stories we cover and the photos we publish become a conversation piece to strangers standing in line at Subway, allowing connections to be made and thoughts and ideas to be shared throughout campus.
Buchtelite Arts & Life Editor
I started working for the Buchtelite in the spring simply because I needed something to do. I had quit my food service job a few months before, and while I wasn’t in a dire financial situation (thanks mom and dad), I wanted something to occupy my time and of course, something I could stick on a resume. I had written for the Buchtelite throughout the fall semester, and having vowed never to work in food service again, I thought the copy editor position looked ideal.
Through working at the Buchtelite I gain not only a part-time job that’s related to my field, I gain the great experience of working in an enjoyable, team-oriented environment. Working at the Buchtelite has allowed me to see and do a little bit of everything that goes into the production of a newspaper and get to know some great people at the same time.
In addition, it’s been a great way to get involved and stay updated on campus. Editing for the Buchtelite has been a window into activities in Akron that I might not have found on my own, being a commuter student. I’ve seen the staff and writers work incredibly hard to get the latest stories into the paper (sometimes with little payoff).
It can get hectic sometimes, but for me the experience is not only educational, but fun as well.
Buchtelite Copy Editor
This is my second year working at the Buchtelite. After a long, yet meaningful past year here as arts and life editor, I have returned as a helping hand this year as copy editor.
I originally wanted to work for the Buchtelite because I was an excited freshman who wanted to get a job on campus doing something unique and interesting to me. I was starting to become interested in working for press as I explored the communication major, so I wanted to try working for the newspaper. As a freshman, the experience seemed invaluable to me, so I applied and thankfully got the job.
And the experience I gained became just that: invaluable. I learned so much while working as arts and life editor, including methods used in press as well as life lessons that greatly increased my work ethic. Additionally, I gained multiple friendships.
I returned this year for two reasons: to offer help to the Buchtelite team and to make some much needed money on the side.
I think what we do here at the Buchtelite helps the university by reaching out to the students and giving them the opportunity to participate and get involved with the school.
Buchtelite Copy Editor
The Buchtelite has been the independent voice of The University of Akron for over a century and it is still one of the best places for students to gain experience with real world journalism and to express themselves freely.
Through my experience at the Buchtelite I’ve come to realize how important it is. It is the opportunity to express our opinions and our artistic abilities as students without the direct approval of anyone else in the university community. Though we welcome criticism, the Buchtelite itself is the only area in which students can truly express themselves, to be themselves and to gain experience that cannot be gained through any educational means. Anyone can get involved and is welcomed to become involved, which is what makes this so great.
Buchtelite Managing Editor
The Buchtelite is a student-run, student-organized, independently funded, student-written and student-designed newspaper. It is literally of the students for the students. Seeing as how it’s the only newspaper we have, I’d classify it as rather important to campus life and the student population.
As for why I work for it, I worked for the newspaper staff in high school and really liked the atmosphere of deadlines and late-nights. Newspapers may be on the decline, but the fast-paced industry is a good experience builder that is valuable for many areas of study. As a graphic design major, deadlines will be a part of my daily life. In addition to all that, having something I can hold in my hands every Tuesday and Thursday that I helped create is one of the greater feelings in the world. Plus, working for the Buchtelite will look better on a resume than “flipped burgers sophomore and junior year” when I try to go out for a design internship and eventually a job. The hours may be a little long, but the team works well together and I am glad I have this opportunity.
Buchtelite Page Designer
I work for the Buchtelite for many different reasons. One of the reasons is that I know several people who have worked there. Always hearing their stories about it had me interested to see what it’s like working for it.
Another reason is that the Buchtelite will definitely help me out in the field I plan to go into which involves graphic design and using the Adobe programs like InDesign and Illustrator. The Buchtelite also gives me a chance to work with some great people; it didn’t take long for me to warm up to the staff.
The Buchtelite is also really good work experience. What I hope to accomplish by working for the Buchtelite is creating wonderful graphics for people to view while reading the newspaper and to help share Akron’s stories with everyone.
Buchtelite Page Designer
Filed Under: Opinion