My Five Favorite Pieces I Wrote in 2014

We’re already four days into the new year, and so I figured it’s about time I revisited my blog—which I regrettably neglected for most of 2014. Last year was probably the most important year of my life to date. I’m now nearing 25 and it feels like, in 2014, I started to get a glimpse of what the rest of my life could look like. I got offered my first full-time job at Slate, moved into my first apartment in New York City, and adopted two kittens—among many other crucial life events. But that was just the beginning. And I’m confident I’ll evolve even further, both personally and professionally, in 2015.

But you can’t move forward without taking pause for the past. I usually reflect on the pieces I wrote over the past year on Twitter, but this year I thought I’d highlight a few here on my blog. These aren’t necessarily my best pieces or the ones that did “well,” in terms of click bait. But they’re each meaningful to me and represent the work I was most of proud of in 2014. So, here are my five favorite pieces from 2014 that I wrote:

Still via YouTube

Still via YouTube

1. “White Men Don’t Catcall. They Harass In Other Ways” | Slate, October 31, 2014

This is one of the hardest things I’ve ever published. It required writing about a sensitive topic from such a uniquely subjective perspective. So, in that way, it made me feel strangely vulnerable. I knew it would be provocative and might offend many. And, in the end, it gave me my first piece of hate mail (like, actual snail mail). This was also the one piece from 2014 that made me feel like a real journalist. I had encouragement from my incomparable EIC, Julia Turner, to write it; had one of the best editors in the business, Allison Benedikt, work with me on; and had an impeccable social media team promote the hell out of it. Not everyone will agree with this piece, but I’m happy to work at a place that welcomed my controversial thoughts regardless.

2. “I want people to feel like they’re reading a diary”: Sam Smith on In the Lonely Hour, Unrequited Love, and Being the Next Adele.” | Pigeons & Planes, January 22, 2014

I think this was the first long piece I wrote in 2014, and it stuck with me the rest of the year. At the time I interviewed him, I had no idea Sam Smith would blow up in the U.S. the way he did last year. I’d only hoped both he and his debut album would find a warm reception beyond the U.K—because he deserves it. Celebrity interviews can sometimes feel forced and uncomfortable, even when it’s with someone the public barely knows … yet. Sam Smith wasn’t like that. This interview felt genuine, like a conversation with a close friend who’d just gotten back from studying abroad for a semester. And I think you can sense that from how easy it reads. I remember at the time wanting to ask him about his sexuality, because I felt him struggling to address it himself in his music, but didn’t want to overstep any boundaries. The Fader‘s Jessica Robertson was ultimately the right person to get him to open up in that way, and I’m so proud of him for finding the courage to do so. This is my favorite interview I conducted in 2014.

Photo courtesy of Biz 3

Photo courtesy of Biz 3

3. “Killer Mike and El-P of Run the Jewels Talk Writing, Rap Regionalism, and Cat Sounds.” | Slate, October 24, 2014

I can’t really explain what it meant to be able to speak openly with these guys about hip-hop, cultural appropriation, New York City, and Run the Jewels 2—which coincidentally became my favorite album of 2014. I mean, El-P and Killer Mike are rap veterans and two of the most respected minds in the game, I think even more so after last year. Killer Mike schooled us all on race in 2014, and I learned so much from the both of them in our 20-minute conversation. Seriously, the full transcript is gold. Here’s to adding yet another check mark on my journo bucket list.

4. “Something to Fight For.” | Pigeons & Planes, February 26, 2014

When I speak to musicians, I like to take it deeper than the music. Not necessarily to get to know them as people, but know their ideas and the way they think. I’d say I did that best when I interviewed MØ in early 2014. It was originally supposed to be a short profile, sort of like one of those 200-word blurbs you see at the front of print magazines. But it turned into something longer and better for it. MØ has rock star ambitions in the way that the Spice Girls did and is as uncensored and politically incorrect as they were in their prime. We chatted over Skype about feminism, Pussy Riot, the Scandinavian welfare mentality, and whatever else was on her mind for those 45 minutes or so. I loved our talk and it made me fall in love with her music even more than I already had. She’s that good.

Michael Desmond/Showtime

Michael Desmond/Showtime

5. “With the Unrest in Ferguson, Masters of Sex Has Become Surprisingly Topical.” | Slate, August 22, 2014

I didn’t get to write about race as much as I’d have liked to in 2014. Some of that was out of fear—fear of not being qualified or good enough (remember, I work with great minds like Jamelle Bouie, who covered Ferguson expertly) and even the fear of what some of my white friends and family would think of my words. But rather than speak to my own experiences, as I did on catcalling, I did get to lend my voice to the conversation the best way I know how—though pop culture. Masters of Sex is one of my favorite shows right now and, over the summer, one of its subplots intersected with what happened to Michael Brown in Ferguson (and blacks all over the country, for that matter). One of my co-workers noticed the parallels, too, and brought it up in an email. So I volunteered to write about it, and I’m happy I did. No other major publication at the time had picked up on and it felt good to offer a critical eye to the show that no one else had. Perfect example of the benefits of newsroom diversity, I’d say…

Thanks for reading both this and anything else I wrote in 2014. Your support means the world to me and it’s why I do what I do. With that said, I won’t make any promises about my commitment to this blog in 2015 because I’d hate to get anyone’s hopes up when I know I can’t always follow through. But I will say that I’ll absolutely be making more of an effort to share my thoughts here in 2015. I missed writing about the media last year—especially what happened to TNR—and I hope to continue that this year. So, stay tuned and happy new year!

-Dee

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One thought on “My Five Favorite Pieces I Wrote in 2014

  1. Pingback: 5 Favorite Things I Wrote in 2015 | Donata C. Lockett

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