This blog was was written by Julia Mercado a Girls Write Now mentee about the December 12 workshop on Journalism: Op-Ed and Think-piece. The workshop included two craft talk speakers, Martha Southgate, essayist, author and Op-Ed Project Fellowship Leader in the morning and Meghan Daum a Los Angeles Times opinion columnist in the afternoon. Julia attended Martha’s workshop.
I took a journalism class about a year ago. I had an adverse feeling toward the subject; it was too much research that reminded me of my usual, boring, school papers. However, things changed when we got to op-ed. I actually was able to use my own opinions on a topic I like and since then I was hooked to the idea of op-ed pieces. Going into the Girls Write Now workshop, I felt the hook grab me again. Our “Opening Lines” was what drew me in from the start. Immediately, we shared our thoughts through passion statements. We did what the women at Girls Write Now are accustomed to, we shared our voices.
We had an additional voice with us as the chat about opinionated pieces unraveled. It was interesting to hear our craft talk speaker, Martha Southgate talk about her experience with The OpEd Project and writing her own op-ed pieces. She showed us that a great op-ed piece can resonate with its readers as well as the writer themselves. This made me look at my passion statements differently. It wasn’t just my opinion, I had the chance to use my journalism skills. With fiction, it must resonate with the readers through your characters, however, with op-ed, it is your own voice speaking to the readers.
We saw many examples of this when we split up into groups and we go to see how different writers took the op-ed approach. Some were more analytical while others were more conversational. The op-ed piece I chose to read was straight conversational. “Hello, I Am Fat” by Lindy West was a direct comment to a co-worker and boy, she let him have it! My group agreed that her piece was the one that stood out to us the most because she was unconventional in her form of op-ed writing. We definitely related to her as she basically ranted to this co-worker about how detrimental his comments were and she went on to prove him just how wrong we was.
I took inspiration from Lindy’s piece and my passion statement to write my own op-ed about how much I was ticked off that I wanted clothes that were comfortable for my body, not for a model’s. Pens scribbled against paper as each mentor and mentee had to give the world a piece of their minds. We gained key advice from a mentor who recently submitted an op-ed piece to an editor and was kind enough to share the advice with us. We were told to be able to make our pieces relate to others. I took that with me when writing my piece. I knew I wasn’t the only girl on the planet who was disappointed by the fashion trends of today.
To end the workshop, we took the “Closing Lines” to write our own closing lines in which we wrote or rewrote the final lines of our op-ed piece. After sharing out, we saw how opinionated we really could be! This workshop definitely made me love the op-ed form of journalism more. I think I might try my hand at it again.