Listing my accomplishments is possibly the hardest thing for me to do each year, especially publicly. I know, to some, it makes me seem egocentric, but I get over the feeling that people will think I’m full of myself in order to keep a yearly record of what I’ve achieved (and haven’t). I started out in freelancing just as most people on this blog have started out freelancing– with little or no journalism experience or training– and I want to provide a moving record of my progress so that someone just starting out, or someone who thinks it’s harder than it actually is, can get an accurate picture.
I talked about my failures yesterday, because there is no achievement without failure. So here today, are my professional accomplishments for the year:
- The biggest and most obvious one, of course, is that I became a correspondent for TIME magazine and Time.com, writing at least a couple of pieces for them each month. I have to admit it feels pretty special.
- ELLE magazine (Indian edition), for which I wrote my first journalistic piece (a one-year follow-up on the 2004 tsunami), asked me to be Contributing Writer, putting me on the masthead and offering me a regular paycheck. I have a tremendous amount of loyalty to this publication and my editor, who has given me advances when I was unable to pay my rent, trusted my judgment on ideas when they had no clear female angle, and written recommendation letters and provided references when I was looking for other work. To now officially be part of the family is a huge step for me.
- I broke into a number of new publications this year, including the International Herald Tribune, Global Post, and GOOD.
- One of the pieces I’m most proud of this year is for a publication most of you have probably never even heard of — SCRAP. The editor asked me to go out and find all I could about the wastepickers of Delhi, and tell readers about their lives. She gave me 3,000 words to play with. I have never come across a topic that has moved me so deeply and made people so uncomfortable, so I’ve spent time at the landfills, interviewed wastepickers, and come to understand recycling in the country a whole lot more. I’ve embarked on a long-term project about these wastepickers, and some of my stories are already beginning to appear in national and international publications.
- One of the stories I was hell bent on covering this year was about the Sikh riots of 1984, which made widows of thousands in India. You won’t believe how flippant people were about this issue, and I still don’t understand why. That I was able to place it in Elle magazine and on Time.com and have it read by thousands is possibly one of the highlights of my career.
- For the first time, possibly in my entire career, this year I was entirely able to focus on the work I’m interested in doing, rather than the work I have to do to make an income. Since my return to India, I haven’t had to write a single piece that I wouldn’t have written if not for the money. They’re not all award-winning material, but they were all interesting to me.
- Despite the recession, I survived. I think that’s an accomplishment.
So that’s my list. What did you achieve this year?