Columns, Opinion

THADANI: An 800-Word Burden

I got the idea to write this weekly column for The Daily Free Press during a pensive moment in the shower last semester. I had just landed a full-time co-op position with The Boston Globe as a metro correspondent, and I felt like I needed something to save me from the monotony of working everyday — becoming a “real person,” as some may call it.

In the beginning, I wanted to do something groundbreaking with this column: I wanted to investigate and reveal a corruption on campus, write a brilliant commentary on the world around me and “discover my inner gonzo,” as my brother told me to do in a note when he gave me a Hunter S. Thompson book for my 20th birthday.

Before I wrote my first column I got coffee with Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham in hopes of hearing some expert advice on the world of writing a weekly column. I told her it wasn’t the writing that worried me, but rather I was worried about coming up with something to write about each week.

“So, what’s the secret?” I asked.

“Oh, that’s the absolute worst part,” said Abraham, who has been a Globe columnist for several years. “I struggle with that every week.”

And, boy, was she right.

As it turns out, there wasn’t any “monotony” to be saved from when working at the Globe, and “discovering my inner gonzo” was a lot harder than I thought it would be. Working full time in a newsroom, one that constantly ebbed and flowed, kept things moving fast enough where this column became a bit of a burden, rather than the myriad of groundbreaking journalism that I initially hoped to create.

But as Abraham and I continued to talk, she gave me some words of comfort: no matter what, something will always come to you.

Although that was the most valuable piece of advice I was given before embarking on this weekly column, there were times where I may have taken this advice a bit too seriously. Many nights before my deadline (and sometimes even after) were spent engulfed in writers block, staring at my computer in a third floor cubby in Mugar Memorial Library (similar to where I am right now), hoping something would hit me as I repeatedly scrolled through a cycle of Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat.

But 11 columns later, Abraham was right again. Something always happened, even if I didn’t think it would — because that’s just how journalism works. Sometimes it just takes looking a little further, and maybe somewhere a little different.

Through this column, I observed some of the quirks and passions that exist around me in Boston and got to write about it in a pretty laudable student newspaper. And that was quite the privilege.

I find a genuine joy in writing — a joy similar to how Brandon Weiss must feel when he creates his brilliant music, how the BU Jalwa team must feel after performing in front of thousands of people and how Frankie the puppy must feel from just simply being a happy little puppy.

I am not quite sure what exactly sparked my interest in journalism, but I have a stack of beaten up and dusty journals in the back of my closet in Glen Rock, New Jersey to prove that I’ve always loved to write. While the journal I currently have still bears some dirt from god-knows-where in Africa and “back of beyond” India, my earliest journals endured similar beatings of teenage angst.

More than a decade after my first journal entry, I’m glad I finally found a more productive way to channel my affinity for writing rather than as just a way to rant about my teenage qualms. Journalism can create quite the ripple effect in a society if used correctly. A couple of words strung together can mean more than I originally thought.

Journalism is frustrating and competitive, but essential and rewarding at the same time. I hope this joy for the profession doesn’t disseminate like my love for lacrosse did after I rode the bench for an entire season, or like my love for figure skating did after a 6-year-old beat me in a competition when I was twice her age.

As with most things, the “I want to conquer the world” feeling slowly began to wane with this column as the weeks kept turning and the deadlines kept approaching. Now, as I sit here writing my last column, I’m left with the “I just need 800 more damn words” feeling.

But now, with only a few words left in this final piece, and with a tinge of nostalgia, I can safely say that this column was an 800-word burden I am happy I carried this semester.




Boom. Thanks for reading, everyone.

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