Something that matters
By: Luiza Ilie
(Originally published in Illinois Times, June 9, 2005)
“Something that matters” was my first attempt at an in-depth story and was my chance to practice this wonder called narrative journalism that I had just discovered at the University of Illinois in Prof. Harrington’s class. The idea that journalists can use their craft to write these real life stories that dig deeper and tell readers something about the way we live was a revelation, and has since become a lifelong aim.
“Something that matters” taught me how to stick with a story for months, how to shadow my subject, ask uncomfortable questions, take detailed notes, agonize over organizing the material and understand the importance of rewriting over and over. It made me aware of my limitations, and how important it is to have an editor that truly cares, one that doesn’t give up on me or the story.
The story won the Marian Boruck Brody Award for Creative Feature Writing in 2005 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. It became a cover story for alternative news weekly The Illinois Times, and won an honorable mention for feature writing at the 2005 AltWeeklies Awards.
– Luiza Ilie
Eric Anglada wakes up at 6:30 a.m., before the noise of the day starts. At this early hour, he is the only one awake.
His small room is furnished with a desk, a small dresser, a bed with navy-blue covers, and bookshelves. The only flashy thing here is the color scheme: Soon after he moved in, Eric painted each wall a different color — blue, mauve, orange, green.
Everything here is quiet; outside, the street is deserted. Eric enjoys the solitude — it won’t be long before the phones will start ringing, people will start arriving, and he’ll be hard at work.
This day, Eric will help Johnnie move out. The 60-year-old woman has lived here for the past year, and, when she needed help getting into public housing, she turned to Eric.
Around here, everybody turns to him.