Because pg 4 8-30-18

Category: Current Issue

 Because I had to….  

…NUT GRAF.      

A nut graf is a term used in journalism.  It is a paragraph, often in a feature story, that explains the value of the story and is a contraction of the expression nutshell paragraph. The term nut graf (or nutgraph) has evolved to also include a sort of add-on to a writer’s by-line.  In other words, a little snip-it that succinctly adds value to the writer’s name.
Of course it’s true that we all want to feel like whatever we write or, more importantly, say, has value and importance to whomever is listening and so we spend a great deal of effort in our story telling interjecting phrases like “You know what I mean?” or “Can you believe what happened next?” and then adding qualifiers to illicit a facial reaction like “amazingly” or “very unexpectedly” or “disappointingly”.  Eventually, amidst all of the verbiage of telling a story, we realize, lest our audience express boredom, that we need to get down to the heart of the matter and nut graf it… “…And so my day was bad because I got sideswiped on my way to get the lunch order!”
But what if we had to nut graf ourselves?  Upon presenting this column, as a writer, I had to do just that.  And so, I had to ask myself what, in one catchy little sentence or phrase, explains the value of me?  How do I effectively nut graf myself so that you, as a reader, want to read my column?  It is a given that I need to produce interesting and relatable columns, but I also need to capture the essence of WHY I am able to produce interesting and relatable columns… in one little catchy sentence!
Immediately, I began the task by listing my personal attributes and qualities, but I soon discovered that rather than yielding a nut graf, I seemed to be creating an on-line dating profile; “…likes long barefoot walks on the beach but only if the beach isn’t filled with rocks and sharp shells…”.  I discarded my “profile” and focused on the components of the task at hand: What makes me Me and what makes Me, as a writer, valuable?
And then it came to me--- the single most defining part of me has always been my hair.  The very first hairs on my head were curly and by the time I was 5, my head was the exact replica of Shirley Temple!  I am not sure how or why I have naturally thick and very curly hair, but I do, and it has been THE DEFINING character trait (in a physical sense) I possess.  My high school yearbook is filled with anecdotes from friends, acquaintances and, even the lunch lady, about my curls and the single most frequently asked question I have answered in my lifetime is “Is it natural?”
I then needed to just come up with what makes me, as a writer, valuable.  No easy task.  I soon realized that I had actually been through a ‘thing or two’ over the course of my years, learning that, no matter what, you cannot control everything.  You can attempt to control some of the more mundane things like what time of day you will arise and what your children will eat for dinner, but you cannot --- no matter how hard you try --- control everything. That’s a lesson I happened to learn when I was young and impressionable in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, and wanting to look like all of the other kids in my class photo, with Cher straight or Farrah feathered hair!  And thus—
Kathy Naumann, possessor of NATURALLY curly hair and the understanding that you can’t control everything!