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One Year (or Less) on the PO
A regular contributor looks back on his experience at The Partial Observer.

by S.E. Shepherd
December 17, 2001

One Year (or Less) on the PO_S.E. Shepherd-A regular contributor looks back on his experience at The Partial Observer. Since everyone here at The Partial Observer has reflected on the one year experience/experiment that is the PO, and because I can’t think of anything else to write about, I decided to write about what the PO has meant for me.

I’ll never forget the day editor-in-chief Mark D. Johnson, flanked by two very large and scary-looking thugs, cornered me into a dark alley and asked me if I would like to write for the PO. After a very sincere assurance that “Rocko” would not break my kneecaps if I said yes, I agreed to contribute.

I immediately became the “new kid on the block,” with taunts of “fresh meat” coming from James Leroy Wilson, and suspicious looks from a paranoid Dear Jon, convinced I was trying to steal his advice column. However, unlike my fellow staffers here at the PO, I resisted the temptation/chore of writing a weekly column and opted to write more free-lance, or as lazy writers like myself like to say, “whenever the mood hits me.” Since then, our editor has named a large 2” x 4” “the mood” and hit me with it several times.

Writing for the PO is a lot of fun, though I do have a tendency to aggravate over every column I write. Never knowing my audience (unless I get feedback) I aim to be neither offensive nor boring, and hopefully present my ideas clearly and intelligently. My first article for the PO was a review of the Beatles’ latest compilation CD, 1. I have never agonized over a piece of writing like I did for that review. Certain that everyone who read it would consider me a complete moron, I nevertheless submitted the article and awaited my public execution. Instead, I received enough positive comments from those that read the article that I was encouraged to write more. Since then I hope I have created a positive relation with PO readers and that there are some of you that actually look forward to my next article.

I have tried to contribute to every field covered by the PO, and there are two reasons for this.

The first reason is I like to stretch my writing abilities. I am not a professional writer, though I do like to dabble in all the different writing styles. The PO allows me an opportunity to write in different styles and hopefully find an audience for my “voice.” (A Writing 101 term) I don’t know if my writing is the best and often feel I could have done better (Our editor will testify how I’ve submitted several copies of the same article, each with a note saying “I think this is better.”) However the true litmus test for my writing is you, my audience, and so far no one’s panned my articles, so I must be doing OK.

The second reason I try to contribute everywhere is because I love the concept of the PO, and try to “fill in the gaps” I see in certain areas. It is unfortunate that we don’t have more people contributing book reviews, movie reviews, or articles about sports or current events or whatever. As much as I enjoy reading Dear Jon, James Leroy Wilson and the other regular contributors, nothing is more exciting as an article by a new contributor. I also love to scan the forums and hope people continue to add to them as well.

Let me end by encouraging all of you who have considered writing/submitting an article to the PO to do so. It was extremely difficult, writing that first article for the PO, but it has gotten easier since. 2001 has been a very eventful year, and when I wrote that first piece in January, I had no idea what awaited me. But working on the PO has been a wonderful experience, and if this is Year One, I can’t wait to see what happens in the years to come. Thanks for reading me; I promise my next article will be more interesting.

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