Practice makes perfect: a motto by which we are to live. There are a multitude of success stories out there (wherever “there” is) that discuss how this simple tactic being employed is the key to mastery of any given subject.
I suppose that writing too takes practice and while writing multiple drafts of a piece would definitely constitute a reasonably good exercise, reading the works of other writers in the world leaves an aspiring writer with more to work with and therefore, a better chance of surviving writing’s harsh arenas.
This week, our assignment was to read an article written by Kellie Kotraba in the Columbia Missourian. Kotraba’s piece was about a young woman, Kelsi Poe, a year after she fell off the stairs at a local bar while under the influence of alcohol. While I admire Kotraba’s dedication to the piece, it’s my personal opinion that the article as a whole lacks at delivering to audiences all the potential it holds.
I have to applaud Kotraba on the ingenuity she applied to the story. When news of Poe’s accident first came about, there was a vast amount of coverage from journalists around Columbia. Kotraba’s decision to write a follow-up of the story was both unique and smart in a journalistic sense. The story provided readers with an update on Poe’s condition and helped to make sure this tragic story resonated in the minds of the community.
It was also apparent that Kotraba did her research. She showed her readers that she had not only met Poe and her family, but had dived deep into their lives, emotions, and closely held memories of that September night in 2010.
What bothered me the most, however, was Kotraba’s reluctance to emphasize the implications that alcohol had on the situation to a great enough extent. Yes, Kotraba mentioned Poe’s outrageous .32 BAC and the fact that she was drinking underage. What Kotraba did not do was continuously imbed information of why this was such a serious risk to take, throughout the entirety of the piece.
One reason that this crucial information could have been left out, could have been that Kotraba felt that this was stressed enough in previous articles written on the situation and wanted to focus on Poe a year after the accident. Yet that reason is unlikely, seeing as though Kotraba spent a significant amount of time giving unnecessary background information that could have been summed up in just a few short paragraphs. Kotraba’s inability to remain clear and concise was one my biggest problems with the piece. I feel that the story could have easily been told in half the amount of pages that Kotraba used. If she had kept it more to the point, it’s my belief that the impact on the reader would have been greater.
There was a also a surplus of random information thrown in such as Caleb Rich’s overly dramatic recall of his flight to action, which made the article seem less serious and credible, and more like a short story from a creative writing class.
The constant repetition of “old Kelsi vs new Kelsi” seemed juvenile and redundant instead of creating a growing impact that made the reader feel like this situation deeply changed Poe’s life. Kotraba spent so much time rambling that by the time I read the section about Poe’s life today, I felt as if it were my job to continue reading. I feel like that’s a major problem since the main focus of this piece was to do that exactly, to give readers a look into Poe’s life today!
When I flipped from page 9 to 10, I couldn’t help but feel like I should have seen it coming all along. Kotraba’s choice of using a quote to end such a potentially-powerful story was both smart and favorable. Yet I almost screamed when I read the quote she chose (instead I just died inside). It was completely inappropriate. I understand the cute aspect of her niece and how Poe is grateful to be given a second chance at life. Yet to me, it was a lazy way to conclude such a serious story.
I don’t want to use this post as a way to completely bash Kotraba and her work. It was still a very well-written piece with excellent journalistic elements at play. The story was very disheartening to hear about and to some extent I’m sure it raised awareness of the dangers of drinking. I just disagree with some of her decisions as a writer and think that there was time and space where the piece could have been developed to make a bigger impact or difference. I was also left with a multitude of questions on the piece and Kotraba’s reluctance to investigate more of what actually happened that night. I feel like she took on too many elements without enough research or evidence to support all of them in a timely and developed manner.
If nothing else, Kotraba’s work only further emphasizes the idea that it’s only through practice that we’ll find perfection.