Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Job Doing What You Love

When I was in college, someone (I don't even remember who) asked me why I didn't pursue a journalism major. I had two reasons:
1. I don't believe in a journalism major. Journalists must have broad education or at least an intelligence that allows them to question and receive information. The craft of writing is part talent, part experience and part having the right mentors. I don't think journalism professors are the best mentors. The fast-paced universe and the breadth of topics that appear in a journalist's world are constantly in flux and an academic at a university has lost touch with this and cannot train a journalist for this.
2. I love to write. I didn't want to ruin that by writing all day long.

I was right. I spent four years in public relations and publications. Then, I moved to my journalism career. I wrote an average of ten stories per week for years on end. Sometimes I did as many as twelve or fourteen.

By the time I got home at night, I had no words left for me. I have given them all "to the people." I didn't want to read words. I didn't want to write words.

The pleasure had gone from them.

I remembered this recently when a friend of mine recently finished her honors project for her bachelors degree. She lamented to me that her brain had been in "research mode" so long that she looked forward to returning to her creativity.

And I understood.

Many of us who write creatively also use our skills professionally. This can hinder productivity. It is important to do something you love as a career. It is important to have skill in what you do. But any career that involves creativity in its day-to-day life will drain you.

So you must be careful.

If I ever get the chance to write my novels and stories as a career, that means I will no longer have that as a hobby (and perhaps could return to having hobbies that involve putting my photos in albums, gardening or oil panting). But if I use those skills in my next career: for press releases, articles, whatever... I have to weigh if those things add to or detract from what I want to do with my words.

If the New Yorker calls and wants me to go be Adam Gopnik in Paris, I am there. If the AFP (French Press Agency) calls and wants me on staff, I'm there.

Other opportunities? Depends how badly I need the money. Depends how much of my soul they demand.

In America, we don't sell our souls to the devil, because corporations so gladly take them off our hands.


  1. I love this, Angel, because it is so organized and thought out. So different from my brain;) I find that I hated journalism, too, and really for the exact same reasons. It kept me from playing with my invisible friends. But I am addicted to writing, so even if I was offered a huge contract from a giant house in NYC, I would still be writing with the same amount of Rain Man dedication. It's just what I do. I can't stop.

    But I am weird. You are not;) You have a thought process. And if Paris calls, you need to leave.


  2. If Paris calls, I will gladly go.