It's week three on the job in my life as a business reporter, and I'm learning more each day about this work and about myself.

Here are a few examples:

1. I CAN get on stage in front of 300 people and present awards without mispronouncing anyone's names or tripping or getting stage fright. And I did so at Tuesday night's 40 Under Forty Business Leaders event at Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, hosted by my company.

This is me at the 40 Under Forty cocktail party. In the middle is my co-worker Sarah and on the right is my co-worker Tom.

2. I keenly feel my newbie status when juggling a lot of stuff. Literally. This week I had to go to a job site and wear a hard hat and neon vest and ask questions and stay out of the way of two TV crews while taking notes and carrying my tote bag and climbing flights of stairs inside the building under construction. I'm out of breath just saying it! And at one point while I was interviewing an official I heard one of the camera guys say, "She's nervous!" Great. Thanks for picking up on that.

3. There is an inverse relationship between typing speed and accuracy. During phone interviews I find myself rushing through typing a sentence so I can get the whole thing before the source moves on to the next point. When I read the sentences back to myself I see that words like "partners" became "patrns" and phrases like "policing initiatives" became "policng inititatives." Please tell me it's OK to invent alternate spellings. Productivity would go through the roof!

4. Most of us are learning on the job. I have a co-worker who's been a reporter for something like 10 years and she still has to spend tons of time trying to decode unfamiliar terms, prep extensively for complicated interviews and find new ways of saying old things. It's not. Just. Me.

That's all for this week. Come back next week for more!

I've been a business reporter for the Grand Rapids Business Journal for a week and three days. In that time, I've written stories on...

  • The tech industry
  • A college fair
  • Game developers
  • A startup film series
  • A camp expansion up north
  • The economic impact of our local zoo and public museum
  • An animal welfare convention hosted by the Humane Society
  • A foundation that is making possible physician fellowships to save lives from peripheral artery disease

From the minute I interviewed for this job, it was clear that variety would not be lacking, and that's been true each day, right down to the tickle-my-funny-bone happenings that crop up as I go about my job.

One amusing moment from this week was when I went to a news conference and quickly realized I was the only media member there. The rest were PR reps and CEOs presenting their spiels. So they all were looking at ME from the podium, emphasizing each new statement with pointed eye contact and smiles.

A couple days later, a marketing consultant I was interviewing half-ashamedly revealed there would be free beer at the event I was previewing. She almost, ALMOST asked me not to print that, for fear that it would attract the wrong kind of crowd. But then she basically said, "Forget it; let them have beer!"

I'm sure many more such slices of life will make their way into my reporter's notebook as I dig into this job. Stay tuned!

Last week I headed into one of the toughest, yet most rewarding weekends of my year.

Of what do I speak? Breathe Christian Writers Conference. The event in Grand Rapids covers fiction, nonfiction and poetry, as well as insights from editors, agents and marketers on how to get published and grow your platform.

The tough

This year (my third as an attendee) came on the heels of me accepting a new job as a reporter at Grand Rapids Business Journal. I knew my job would be starting the Monday after the conference. This gave me exactly one day to rest in between.

So I was stressing out. Worrying that I would be drained from all the socializing and networking. Fretting over my lack of creative writing productivity the past year. What will I have to tell people about who I am as a writer if I didn't write much in 2016? Who's going to believe that I'm a poet and a blogger if they google me and don't find anything recent?

The good

Breathe blew me away — AGAIN. It showed me how much room there is in God's plan for MY story, the one that includes fits and starts, fruitful days and dry spells. 

Some of the most affirming things: 

1) Novelist Tracy Groot's lunch forum, "On Creating a Good Work" encouraged me that our best always starts with our least. And so the question I should ask myself is not "How can I do a perfect job?" or "How can I have the most productive year?" but instead "What is the least I can do today to get the job done?" God isn't looking for perfection. He is looking for movement in our hearts.

2) All the poetry sessions on Saturday were great. Amy Nemecek led a session on the poetry of Luci Shaw, and Matt Landrum led two sessions: one a poetry critique workshop (SO helpful!) and the other on submitting to literary journals. I was so grateful for the extra emphasis this year on the craft of verse. I walked away from the critique session armed with suggestions on how to revise one of my poems, and I felt a deep sense of encouragement that I'm on the right track.

See how much the good outweighed the bad? I'm really glad I didn't listen to all those nagging fears about the conference. It refreshed my soul.
This weekend brings one of my favorite times of year: Breathe Christian Writers Conference, a time of gathering with like-minded writers and lovers of literature to learn from nationally acclaimed speakers and local folks alike on the craft of writing. 

This year's theme is Celebrate Story, and the smart, savvy group of writers, agents and editors who run this conference have been promoting the theme on their blog since, oh, about May.

My friend Alexis, who is on the planning committee, just picked up the programs today:

(Photo courtesy of Alexis De Weese)


I can't wait. I am excited about learning more about appreciating, writing and pitching great poetry; how to become a better blogger; how to hone my voice as a writer; and how to persevere through those pesky dry patches and times I just want to give up.

On top of all that, I'll get to see the many writer friends I met there in 2014 and 2015, browse through a mobile bookstore courtesy of Baker Book House, and enjoy catered meals as part of my registration package.

If you want to come, it's not too late to register. Hope to see you there!