Senior column: Molly Duerig

It’s funny how often good writers are insecure about their own writing. Almost every good writer I know falls prey to this habit. Especially when someone begins writing for the newspaper, it seems that the more nervous he or she appears to be, the more successful he or she will be as a writer.

When I first attended a meeting for “The Campus,” it was out of my pure fear of a vaguely-described requirement for English majors in Allegheny’s Catalogue. Apparently it was required for all English majors to spend at least four semesters writing for “The Campus.” Well, I reckoned, judging from Allegheny’s already overwhelming workload, I’d better start now.

And that’s when my insecurity about writing – and especially about writing for the newspaper – began to surface.

“I have no idea what the hell I’m doing,” I thought to myself at each meeting, where I would sit with a halfhearted, distant smile as I tried to wrap my brain around the idea of writing newspaper articles. It seemed an insurmountable task.

My English papers at Allegheny were receiving B’s and C’s, and I thought myself keen enough to publish my writings in a newspaper? Learning journalistic style seemed like an insurmountable task.

“Get real, Molly,” I muttered to myself as I watched the editors scrutinize my articles in the disheveled newsroom. “These editors must really be having a laugh at you.”

Looking back, all I can think is, get real, old Molly. These editors were probably thrilled by my sheer presence and interest in attempting to shove something resembling a newspaper article together.

In much the same fashion, today I look forward to that sense of elation I feel when I meet a new writer. Anyone can write for the newspaper – it just takes practice and an interest in writing.

When a new writer seems especially nervous or insecure with the quality of his or her work, I predict that he or she already has a natural talent for writing. Ten out of ten times I have been correct.

More than anything, I encourage all Allegheny College students to get involved in “The Campus” newspaper. Conversations that take place in the newspaper are intended to be open and inclusive. All members of the community, professors included, are always encouraged to write in commentary to the Opinion pages.

This campus is yours. It’s yours to contribute to and yours to participate in. I am proud of the newspaper staff and what we’ve accomplished together. Yet by far, the area of “The Campus” with the most potential for improvement is recruitment and retention of contributing staff members. If I were somehow able to stay another semester and dedicate my time solely to recruiting writers and coaching them on journalistic style, I would do it in a heartbeat.

But I can’t, so instead I’m leaving you with this plea. If you’ve ever had the slightest interest in writing, please do not leave this campus without writing an article for the student newspaper. We all know there is a surplus of activity happening on this campus, and a good deal of it is interesting to say the least. Why not write about it?

It remains unclear to me whether or not that requirement for English majors to write for four years is ever actually enforced. Regardless, here I am, four years later, the sole News Editor for “The Campus.” It feels strange to be manning the desk alone: when I joined, there were always at least two editors on each desk. (Except for Sports, of course.)

Yet I don’t feel alone, because I’ve been accompanied by a group of amazing people throughout my four years at Allegheny. Some of those people were editors and writers, past and present. Others were the students, who are truly the force behind a lot of this school’s motivation. I ask all students to be proactive about involving themselves in their community. If you like writing, there’s always a convenient opportunity for you to involve yourself here.

Try it out, see how you like it. If you’re nervous, don’t worry. That shows you care.

That’s a good sign.