by Rebecca Raney
A 30-year tour of hope and disaster
I've spent most of my life working as a reporter. Before I was a reporter, I was a violinist. Right now, I'm on YouTube retracing my time as a competitive musician. You can watch here:
I'm also writing an essay series about what it was like to become an elite competitor while coming from one of the worst neighborhoods in Kansas City.
To follow the "Reckless Violinist" series, sign up here:
Here's a link to a popular essay from the series:
"Who Built My Fiddle? The Mysterious Origin of a Violin from Missouri"
That said, here's my story:
Even after 30 years of working in the news business, sometimes I don't think I've had a very interesting life. Then I remember the fires, floods, plane crashes and murders, and I can see that I don't have much in common with the neighbors.
I come from the backcountry of north Missouri, where my family has lived for nearly 200 years. After I graduated from college, I packed up a rusted-out Ford and left Missouri for a three-month internship in California.
I was 21 then, but I had been on my own since I was 17. When I got to the Golden State, I didn't have enough money to get a place to live.
In those early years, after rent and student loan payments, I had less than $1.50 a day left over for food.
But the stories made the sacrifices worth the trouble, and in 1997, I started writing a column for The New York Times on the Web. That column evolved into day-to-day coverage of the development of the Internet as a force in politics.
These days, I'm working as a freelance writer.
I pitch on on coverage of big breaking stories for The New York Times, and I also write profiles of scientists for the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Major stories in recent years have included the "Stairway to Heaven" copyright trial, the San Bernardino terror attack and the mass shooting in Las Vegas.
During the 2000's, I taught data journalism at the Annenberg School of Journalism at the University of Southern California. Freelance credits include essays for Writer's Digest and The Atlantic online.
I'm still looking for that next great story -- even if it's the story that I'm writing for myself.
Mailing address: 112 Harvard Ave., #134, Claremont, CA 91711