One of the proudest moments in my early adult life was when I saw my name in the newspaper. Some people get this by less-than-honorable means, like being mentioned in the story, "Intoxicated man fights raccoon for sandwich," but my mention was more dignified. The company I worked for had opened a new laboratory, and I, as a company spokesman, offered some important information about this venture, which was in conjunction with a college. There it was, printed in that sooty newspaper ink - my name, my role as spokesman, and my words about the company. And I was just 21 years old.
When we become writers, we earn the honor of our byline and this should never be taken lightly. To see, in print, the words, "by James Pressler" gives immediate ownership to the story, essay, opinion piece or whatever. There is now a direct connection to whatever words come next, because they rest of the world now knows that those words are ours. They make up a part of us, and we publicly acknowledge this. That's a pretty strong statement.
Have I not convinced you yet? Consider this: Social media is full of people who make bold statements, defiant proclamations, and in many cases outright lies, all hiding behind anonymous titles or pseudonyms such as GanjaMaster420. These people know the power that exists when it comes to assigning a thought to a person, and they look to dodge this responsibility. Furthermore, it becomes so much easier for them to flex about whatever they want if they do not have to take the burden of ownership. GanjaMaster420 sure says a lot of things, but never has to worry about everything that comes with it.
Why do I go on about something as simple as a byline? Well, mostly this is my justification for using it as a reminder. With every document I work on, every story I create or poem I write, I have my name attached to it for everyone to see - including myself. It is the ever-present reminder that these thoughts, opinions, characters, events, or whatever are mine, and that they are worthy to be associated with me, and I am good enough to create things for public consumption. It is both a gift to myself and a reminder of what I owe the reader, and they are amazing things to behold.
Of course, sometimes things go a little sideways. In my first news article, they spelled my name wrong. Oh well.
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