Dawn Colclasure's Blog

Author and poet Dawn Colclasure

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Shifting gears with an article idea

When it comes to getting an assignment from the EIC at SIGNews, she usually tosses them my way. On very rare occasions, I may mention something to her that could be written up as an article for the paper, and she’ll tell me to go for it. For my September assignment, however, she opened the door for article suggestions.

I had not one but two article ideas. And she said that I could write both of them. Yay! (A third one will be for the November issue.)

So I got to work on my articles. One particular article idea came as a result of something I observed with my 3 ½-year-old son, Jesse. With Jesse being a CODA, I was aware of something POSSIBLY amiss as far as him using sign language in a school setting was concerned. After some secret investigating, however, I found nothing wrong. But I had to wonder, was this kind of thing actually happening with another Child of Deaf Adult out there? I had to find out, and therein was my assignment.

After I checked around – through Facebook, HARO and a network of deaf parents I am a part of – I found that the opposite was true. No, this was not happening. (Thank goodness!) And, actually, ASL was welcome in mainstream schools, instead of being discouraged.

But instead of considering my idea a failure, I got the message. Sign language is ACCEPTED in schools? Really? Hearing kids are allowed to use ASL?

That could work as an article, too!

And the bonus is, it’s still CODA-related. The whole point behind this article idea getting the green light was that it was related to CODAs. So it would still work!

I pitched this new angle to my editor and she gave me her blessing to proceed. I wrote up the article, got photos and turned everything in.

Thank you to you CODAs and deaf parents who took the time to respond to my inquiry about this. I am still so psyched that my own CODA will be included in this article.

I am also glad I was able to take what seemed like a “failed” idea and turn it into a successful one that sold. As writers, we do need to keep our eyes peeled for a story. But we also need to keep an eye out for how to reslant a piece if our original idea doesn't work out.

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