8.10.10

In defence of our dreams

I literally cannot stop thinking about that god damned owl movie trailer, thanks to the kick-ass 30 Seconds to Mars song that accompanies it. I had forgotten that that was Jared Leto's band until Elle reminded me. That man is awesome.
I've had a lot of great feedback on yesterday's post about the importance of bloggers. It's given me plenty to think about. As much, dare I say it, as a journalist has to think about.
There's a debate going on over at Wannabe Hacks, a blog run by a group of guys with whom I once edited, about whether a wannabe journalist should actually blog. The debate rages on and on. I've thought about this too much.
But I am worried now, about whether I'm actually doing myself a disservice. Not by writing this on here, but by trying to use this content to promote myself as a writer. Because, as you can see quite clearly, I haven't really been preaching in favour of those I admire.
Who am I to say what I say, when I am referring to real experts, people who have spent years honing their craft under the limits, constraints and barriers that do not confine us bloggers? While we are freely (literally) allowed to upchuck online, giving rise to the dismissive statements about whining bloggers, whereas those that some of us aspire to be like work to strict constraints. While we are free to do whatever, say whatever we want, perhaps this is our problem. Will an editor really want to see that I can write reams and reams arguing a point, or would they far rather see me do the same thing in four paragraphs?
I used to run at school. I was never very good at the sprints, not being possessed of the favoured slight, wiry build essential for a good sprinter. But like Sharika, I have the strong legs good for long distances. But for some reason, I decided that it would be a good idea to keep trying to run the 1500m, possibly the most difficult distance. Too short to sprint, too long to get into your stride, it's exhausting, punishing and often very unsatisfying. And this is the kind of work left to the modern journalist - a mid-point, in terms of time, word limit and available information.
God, now I sound like I'm selling out.
See, this is the real thing that a blog tests in the way that a newspaper doesn't. Because the blogger has total control of what they write, what they say, and total responsibility for the backlash, they often have to consider their integrity. I suppose that's what Gala did when she turned off the comment section on her blog, taking about staying true to herself and her vision. One of the comments on my post berates me for making a flippant comment about the blogger conference, and now it must sound like I'm pandering. This is something that wouldn't happen to a journalist, mainly because the editor would swoop on it like a bird of prey and edit the heck out of it. (See, an editor has edited the opportunity for a swearword out of that). Because I am my own editor. I have to take full responsiblity for whatever I write, back down when I feel I should, and stand my ground when I know I should.
Listen to this, me talking like I'm important, going on and on about myself. Now who's the whiny blogger? The consumerist nobody who doesn't know she's born. Am I bitter because I'm not a successful 'big' blogger, vengeful because of all the rejections I get (if I get them at all), scared shitless because this whole 'no plan' thing isn't really working for me, freaked out because I have no job and am alone in the biggest city in Britain, with no income and no prospects other than what I can graft for myself?
To be honest, I don't think I'd make a very good journalist. I have idolised Caitlin Moran for years, and her main selling point is her unique and hilarious voice. No-one goes to Caitlin to write a short piece on finance, told in a completely straight style with no room for wit or humour. It's lucky to be able to get into journalism off the back of your signature style (incidentally, she was one of three features writers I met at the media conference I mentioned below), and for the vast majority of us, they won't even get to see ours until we've proved ourselves working in vox pop for years. It's a hard hard world for all of us who think we have something unique to say.
Because, and it's become quite clear from my recent posts, that I really don't. I stopped covering fashion weeks because I just couldn't keep up, and contrary to my self-depricating opinion I do actually have things to fill my time. And mostly, because I don't want to be a slave to what the other publications are producing. I set out to just muse about fashion, but it became more than that. I like to try to explore issues like this, to bust stereotypes, to start debates, and to wear interesting clothes and go to interesting places. It seems to be interesting enough of you that you keep coming back.
And I never really set out to be some sort of myth-busting, heavy duty copy-typing blogger of great things. I just wanted to have something mildly creative to do, having always had the creative spark. I've always wanted to be a writer, ever since I learned how. People used to read the stories I wrote and say they were good, and I'm still unsure as to whether they actually were or because they are my friends. As I've got older, my patience has waned, I get distracted easily and I've got so many ideas flying around but no patience to see them through. I still miss being able to write for hours and hours like I did when I was a teenager, getting up an hour early before school so I could write another few pages on my ancient first computer.
It all comes down to passion. Back then, I loved what I wrote about. Now, I still do, but there are so many other things and so much more less important stuff that I love. Inspiration has gone. Now instead of going home, firing up my laptop and writing for hours, I fire up my laptop and watch DVDs for hours. How lazy have we got, with all this extra opportunity?
Compared to yesterday's post, which I thought long and hard about and am quite proud of, this is pretty nonsensical. I guess it's just me having a mope. I am still unsure as to whether I think I could actually do what I thought I wanted to do. Whether I can do anything. Whether I should stop chasing what I thought was my dream job while applying for anything that moves and actually decide what would make me happy.
But I forget, I'm not Elizabeth Gilbert.
And I am in no position to mope about anything. Everyone has their down days. Unfortunately, because I have a blog, mine can be massively public. I am essentially just worried about where my life is going to take me, whether I should back down on my previous stance, lose my integrity and actually try and use this blog as a portfolio rather than a real outlet of who I am and what I want, and whether I'll ever know the answer.
But I don't have the time for that. I am sick of being surrounded by successful people, and even though I'm only 22 and have plenty of time, I still wnt to be one of them. And I guess, ultimately, a bunch of successful journalists and bloggers sitting on a stage and telling us it just takes one yes when all I've heard for months is no, doesn't really help very much. Because one yes may be the difference between them and me, but hundreds of nos is the difference between me and them.

3 comments:

  1. I'm a little unclear of your career goals and past experience. Do you want to be a journalist/writer/columnist? There's nothing wrong with starting out with that "short piece on finance, told in a completely straight style with no room for wit or humour" and working your way up to being able to write from your point of view...if that's your goal.

    As for this: " a bunch of successful journalists and bloggers sitting on a stage and telling us it just takes one yes when all I've heard for months is no, doesn't really help very much. Because one yes may be the difference between them and me, but hundreds of nos is the difference between me and them." -- Nearly everyone gets the hundreds of noes before they get the yes. There are a few exceptions who fall into a career when they're not looking for it: Tavi; movie stars of years gone by who were discovered at the drugstore counter; models who are found walking through and airport or sobbing on a doorstep. For everyone else, the saying "It takes 10 years to become an overnight success" applies. Trust me, I hear "no" everyday in my jewelry business. And before that, as a journalist, I heard "no" every day too! I just keep going and reminding myself that there's a reason they call work "work" and not "rainbows and unicorns flying out of my ass." Because it's hard.

    In a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal (http://tinyurl.com/38kl4xp), Pulitzer-Prize-winning author Michael Cunningham said this, "Half my friends are either artists or art dealers. I started out to be an artist. It wasn't until I got to college that I began to suspect that I wasn't quite talented enough. I was of course upset and discouraged, but I took a writing course. I would write the same sentence 50 times until it began to seem less embarrassing than it did the first 42 times. Marilyn Monroe once said, 'I wasn't the prettiest. I wasn't the most talented. I just wanted it more than anybody else.' I wanted to be a writer more than just about anyone else so I just stayed with it."

    So do your thing. And if you want to be more like a journalist than a blogger, reach out to people and do interviews when appropriate...like if you're writing about an event that you weren't at. That's the big difference between journalists and bloggers to me. The outreach.

    Hope some of this helps you in some way.

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  2. Thanks Wendy - you are as confused as I am! And why I try to figure this all out publically, online, is another matter!

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  3. Well, it's cheaper than a therapist! ;-)

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