Steven Vincent: Take Advantage of the Simple Freedom…
[When it first appeared,] I…read "Faith, Shame, and Insurgency" and was transfixed. Despite (or, more likely, because of) Vincent's lack of ideology and independent, freelance status, I felt that the article had more authority behind it than any other piece of writing—liberal, conservative, or otherwise—that I'd read about Iraq.
As a matter of fact, I enjoyed it so much that I wrote Mr. Vincent an e-mail expressing my admiration for the article and asking him about how he got into the freelance journalism business (a field which, as a high school senior on the cusp of college, I was thinking about pursuing . . . and as a rising college sophomore, still am). Not only did he respond—and from his apartment in Baghdad no less—he also wrote me probably the best advice I've received yet in my life. He offered tips on how to get into journalism and words of wisdom on how to approach it once there (he was adamant about maintaining an independent voice, which he himself said he was slowly cultivating with his freelance political writing). Perhaps more enticing, however, was his wild and daunting vision of the best way to spend one's twenties . . . working shit jobs, being a down and outer in Paris and London, generally taking advantage of the simple freedom that accompanies that decade of your life in the most exuberant ways possible.
Now 19, and in light of yesterday's events, I am even more appreciative of his counsel.