I recently chose to make a significant decision in my writing and publishing career. I was presented with an opportunity, saw it’s potential and grabbed it. But grabbing this shiny new thing meant leaving something else behind, something I’ve held so close to me for a long time now.
While I’ve only officially been a reporter for three or so months, I spent my entire college career training and dreaming of being one. Not to sound too nerdy here, but journalism was my life. For years, what I’ve known best is interviewing others and turning those words into an article, a piece, a feature.
I originally took a job at the newspaper in the design department last spring (March 2017). While I wanted to be in a writing position, the paper didn’t have any editorial openings at the time. Fortunately, I do have a design background and saw this as my in. I would spend time designing the paper and laying out the pages and would wait for my writing opportunity to arise.
About nine months into the job, my time had finally come. The publisher of the newspaper pulled me into his office and told me that a reporter position had opened up. While I didn’t immediately accept (I spent time negotiating a higher salary—girls gotta do what a girls gotta do), I eventually took on the role in mid-January of 2018.
When I first became a reporter, being paid for writing seemed surreal. I was actually doing what I went to college to do. I know this sounds weird and existential, but I can’t deny the kind of magical feeling I got when I first realized people would read my writing in order to stay informed. I was excited to tackle my beat. Environmental issues, zoning, housing, planning. While it doesn’t sound super exponentially thrilling, I figured that I could put my own spin on it and make the weekly meetings into interesting revelations pertaining to town government.
A month or so into the job, I was feeling okay. I was somewhat fulfilling my weekly assignments, coming in at a just under the amount of stories I should have been producing. I couldn’t quite figure out how the other reporters who had more meetings to cover than I did still churned out six to eight stories every week. I worked hard on my four or five stories a week, only to have them bounced back to me because I had buried the lead and was writing in a feature sort of way rather than a hard news style.
During my time at the Enterprise, I learned that my favorite stories to work on were more often than not feature articles or profiles. It was for these assignments in which I got to really know my subject and was able to tell the story in a creative way with sensory depiction. I was often able to spend more time analyzing my writing rather than pumping out articles to meet a deadline. I could let my fingers glide across the keys to tell the story rather than thinking about adhering to the inverted pyramid structure of a news story.
Not to say that breaking news and small town news isn’t important—it absolutely is, and there’s a need for it as well. But I now know that I’m not made for that style of writing. And that’s okay.
What I came to realize is that while I may always be in a devoted relationship with writing, it was time for me to break up with the news.
You may be thinking that three months is too short of a time to determine that a career path is not the right fit for someone, but to that I will say, it’s not your life, it’s mine. I know in my heart, my mind, my soul, whatever it is that my writing intuition communicates with, that this job was not for me, despite the incredible amount of knowledge I gained and the wonderful relationships I cultivated with the other reporters, editors, and copy editors I worked with. I don’t regret the experience in the slightest.
That being said, next Monday I will be starting a new job at a publishing office here on the Cape, working on children’s books and conducting research for travel books as well. I know that this environment will allow my creativity to flourish alongside my writing, which is all I can ask for. I genuinely am thrilled for the opportunity, and am grateful for all of the support I have received thus far from friends, family and colleagues.
Cheers to new adventures. Don’t let your past stop you from starting a new one tomorrow.