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Living on The Edge

On Monday, March 7, I boarded a school bus with 18 teenagers, and we traveled to the Tennessee High School Press Association annual awards program in Nashville, Tennessee, to await our verdict. Did the tears, the late nights, the fights, the stress, the frustration, the dedication—did the love pay off?

When Dr. Jimmy McCollum announced The Edge newspaper as the Best Overall Newspaper in the state, an All-Tennessee newspaper, we had our answer. YES!

Whether you’ve been following my blog for several months or a few days, you’ve probably discovered that when it comes to the truth, I wear my heart on my sleeve. I weave my feelings between the lines of my poetry and my prose. I write with passion from my heart because I can’t not write that way.

I am who I am.

And once again, I can’t hold back. If it weren’t for The Edge newspaper  staff, I never would have found my courage to write a novel.

People say the first novel is for yourself. Chances aren’t necessarily favorable that it’ll ever be published. Why? Because the writer is still learning, still riding the wave of passion that fuels the dream. Experienced writers, published writers, tell us newbies that it takes, maybe, five manuscripts before the writer is “ready” for the market.

I don’t know if and when The Edge will sell. I don’t know if an agent or an editor will buy my dream. What I do know is I know that “feeling” I get when I write with fire. Something good happens. I write it real. I write it true. I carried that “feeling” through every moment of writing The Edge.

Emily Dickinson once wrote a poem that began with this line: “Tell all the truth but tell it slant.”

Her wording is thought provoking, intriguing, but unlike Emily I can’t tell it slant—not when it comes to telling the story of The Edge journalists.  I have to tell it the way it is, the way I see it every day. To tell it slant would be to tell the story of strangers, not the young people who have molded my life.

My book is all fiction, and every word of it is true. The names have changed to protect the innocent, and the events may not have happened the way they’re written. But it’s true.

People say truth is stranger than fiction. And a novel must be believable “to sell.” I don’t know if anyone else will “get it,” but maybe this book isn’t for just anyone. Maybe it’s just for those kids who seek the adrenaline rush of a deadline, the thrill of adventure, the heart tickle that comes when the words come together just right, and the pride of seeing your first byline.

Even if The Edge isn’t a smash success, maybe someday, one of my kids will stumble upon my manuscript and remember those days, that day when the words that he or she wrote made a real difference in someone else’s life.

They’ve made a difference in mine.

Congratulations Edge staff.

TEN TIPS ON HOW TO BECOME AN ALL-TENNESSEE NEWSPAPER

A good reporter always remembers her shades. Incognito is the word.

Caffeine and deadlines go hand in hand.

A fedora boosts one's creativity.

If anyone asks, just say you're from Memphis.

Mexican food is an instant cure for writer's block.

Sometimes you just don't ask why.

Wear your heart on your sleeve, your name on your back.

Don't be afraid to put on your game face.

Don't be afraid to challenge one another.

Love what you do and the people you work with.

And what does the Lord require of you?

Act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God.

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