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From being the subject of an interview to writing stories – it’s been a fun year

  • Written by Claudia Parker

Claudia Mug Shot-ColorGuess who got hitched this time last year? Me and The Reporter.
And it’s our first anniversary!
One shouldn’t have an anniversary without a mushy story of how the union began. Far be it from me to ruin tradition.
The Reporter and I were first introduced November of 2012. I received a call from a previous staff reporter, regarding an interview. I’d just published my memoir, “Becoming a Mother While Losing My Own,” and a children’s book titled, “Children’s Church with a Preschool Pastor.”
The interview with the Reporter’s reporter was my first with any newspaper. It printed on Thanksgiving, 2012 and I was thrilled to see the story grace the front page.
That left an impression on me.
I became enthralled with the idea of being a reporter. I wanted to bark right out, “How can I get your job?” but that lacked class. About six months later I called to inquire about freelancing for The Reporter. Unfortunately, she was no longer with the paper.
“What? No shoe-in-the-door for me?” I thought.
I hate a cold-call but I dialed away. That landed me on the line with Jason Maholy, the former editor. Strike two! I happened to call on Maholy’s last day. He said, “…call back Monday, ask for Jeff Vorva, it’ll be his decision.”
“Aw geez”, I worried. “Another hoop.”
Writing is a subjective profession. Some love my style and some, not so much! My most memorable rejection was with a literary agent. After receiving a writing sample I submitted for representation she said, “Many thanks for contacting me about your work. I have now had the chance to consider your writing, and regrettably, I do not have sufficient enthusiasm for the project you’ve described to pursue representation.”
Days afterwards I’d find myself repeating “I do not have sufficient enthusiasm for the project,” while aggressively folding laundry or slamming dishes in the sink.
This business requires the ability to embrace criticism.
I recently pitched a Father’s Day tribute to a daily newspaper in the area and their folks swatted me away like a fly at a picnic. Undeterred, I solicited a Chicago newspaper and it ran that piece within a week.
Like I said, it’s subjective. Even when the feedback is good you could be left scratching your head.
Publishing my memoir was a horrendous experience. Everything that could go wrong, did! Once it finally hit the market the positive reviews led me to believe I’d be on the New York Times Bestseller list. However, there must be an awful mistake because I’m not on the list yet. I figured I’d freelance while waiting to be discovered.
The Reporter was my first solicitation. The following Monday, I called just as Maholy suggested. “I’m trying to reach Jeff Vorva, the new editor? I said.” His personality was larger-than-life. “Well I guess that’s me. I AM the new editor, he said.” It was as if being the head chief hadn’t settled in until that moment. I’ve been writing for him ever since.
My passion for writing was discovered seven years ago, shortly after resigning from corporate America to start a family. I traded suits for sweats and a designer handbag for a diaper bag. Writing professionally allows me to exercise vocabulary beyond a first grade level, that would otherwise lay dormant.  
My first year with The Reporter has been incredible.
I love being a part of a team that works as an ensemble, which I feel is reflective of our leader. Vorva serves more than he leads. I’ve learned the hard way writing for the newspaper isn’t like writing a novel. They’re entirely different creatures that I seem to unknowingly comingle. I’m absolutely a stronger writer because of him.
But, the depth of my gratitude belongs to YOU! The reader. The communities from which our stories exist.
Thank you for welcoming me into your lives. You bring hope, inspiration and encouragement to the world. I love sharing your accomplishments and I also love revealing your struggles. I applaud those who allow themselves to be vulnerable for the sake of helping others.
I celebrate your businesses, large and small. I appreciate the contribution you’re making to our economy. Those who haven’t found their name or establishment within the pages of this paper are equally important to me. You’re our faithful readers. The ones who reach for us along with your morning coffee.
We couldn’t print one page without you. I thank you for giving me the honor to write for you. Keep reading and I’ll keep writing, it’s been a happy, first year serving you!

Claudia Parker is an Evergreen Park mother, author, runner whose columns appear the second and fourth Thursdays for the Reporter.