What you find when you’re not looking

Boxing interview, Photo by Asher Elmquist

Curiosity did more than kill the cat.Cat, Photo by Meagan Doll

In my opinion, it is curiosity that has fueled the most captivating interviews, captured the most intriguing photographs and generally produced the best journalism.

The trouble is, however, that sometimes I try to suppress that curiosity. Instead of turning it into an asset for innovation, I often find myself throwing out the idea altogether. Curiosity can be intimidating.

When my original project idea fell through for a very large journalism assignment, I experienced those 15 seconds of panic when one asks themselves whether or not they are pursuing the right life path.

In an effort to save my young, aspiring spirit, my instructor suggested I do a story about UW-Madison’s boxing club.

The first three things to cross my mind were (in this order):

1. I don’t know anything about boxing.
2. Do I even like boxing?
3. Wait, this might work.

And away I went, curiosity driving full speed ahead. I probably could not have been more clueless about an athletic event (except maybe curling – like what?).

Boxing interview, Photo by Asher ElmquistBefore I go any farther, you must know that this project was difficult. It did not turn out well simply because I let curiosity take the wheel. At times, I was frustrated. At times, I wished I hadn’t taken the topic. And at times, I thought about throwing a few punches myself.

In fact, there are things I know right now I would do differently. There was a time or two that I should have left my pride a little closer to the door and asked a few more questions for clarification. I learned quite quickly that I couldn’t use a handheld recorder for natural sound AND take pictures with my Nikon DSLR at the same time… unless I wanted click-click-clicks to accompany jump-ropes and heavy bags.

Still, and to my surprise, I thoroughly enjoyed working with and creating content about the UW-Madison boxing club. Despite the learning gap and sparring jargon that I had to quickly catch up on, I was able to not only report on the tactical side of boxing, but also what it means to people. That was cool.

It took writing a story about boxing to show me that sometimes we don’t look for the best stories. They find us.

Writing about something that I knew so little about gave me the opportunity to piece together content and decide, not only a writer but also as a fellow recipient of this new information, what was important and what was not.Boxing glove, Photo by Meagan Doll

I wouldn’t have chosen boxing on my own. In fact, as I alluded to in my first thoughts, I probably would have scoffed at the idea.

But low and behold, here I sit – grinning ear to ear over a project that I am proud of. A story that I wasn’t looking for, but somehow found. Curiosity saved this cat.

To browse my final project site and content, click here.

– md

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