Who am I? What’s my purpose here? And where did this rash on my butt come from? *scratches*
These were questions that have been weighing on my mind lately, especially when I had to abandon an assignment I received after making a pitch to a popular travel site. The assignment was to write an article about leaf peeping during the fall, and I was hoping I could get an article published there to boost my credibility as a travel writer, and also finally start developing what journalists call a “clipping.” Clippings, if you don’t already know, are samples of work by a writer that were published at notable publications and popular sites. It helps to establish their authenticity as a professional writer, as well as provide proof that they have access to outlets with a high circulation of readers.
As far as that goes, I have zero credibility as a travel writer, because I’ve never been published any where. There may have been things published ABOUT me though (specifically police bulletins,) but I don’t think that counts.
So anyway, I make this pitch about leaf peeping in the Smoky mountains and how to avoid the crowds during that time, and it gets rejected. Partly because the topic was too narrow, and they wanted something a little bit more broader than what I proposed. So I re-pitched the same idea, only including a few other places besides the Smokies, and this time it tentatively gets accepted.
Only problem was, they wanted 8-10 destinations covered, including a few international as well, and wanted details on where it was, what makes it such a great place to see the leaves change, when to go, how to avoid crowds, etc.
And they wanted an outline in two days, AND a 1,200 word article draft in a week or less.
I suppose that’s normal for journalists who face these kinds of deadlines all the time, but… what?
It was an unexpected broadside in a week where I already needed to complete a few time consuming projects, but I was hoping I could still get to it and eventually get the article published. But alas, it was not to be.
I noticed though, whenever I had time to spare for researching and developing the kind of article they wanted, that the art of writing was no longer becoming fun for me. It was starting to feel more like… work.
It didn’t help that I had to write in a format that I have come to absolutely DESPISE too, a format known as “list articles,” where every title starts with “X amount of ways to do <fill in the blank>.” And they are EVERYWHERE on the Internet.
“27 ways to wash your car!”
“13 steps to tweezing your nose hairs”
“6,240 ways that you can bite me”
Ugh. I can’t write like that. And when I try to, it always builds up my anxiety to the point where I have to physically stop and take a walk outside just to calm down again. I consider my writing to be a reflection of my personality, and when I have to write in such a rigid, stupid (yes, STUPID) format, it’s like I’m forcing myself to change my personality.
There are experts who say list articles are so predominant because they are highly popular and easy to absorb by people who tend to scan rather than read content on the Internet, and if I’m ever going to succeed as a writer, then I MUST WRITE THIS WAY OR BE A FAILURE FOREVER.
Oh, and it can’t be too long either, a rule I’ve already broken with this post. Oh, and it has to include lots of photos to break the monotony. Yet another strike against this post.
You know what? The world’s smallest violin just emailed me to say, “I don’t give a rat’s ballsack.”
Has it occurred to any of them that maybe people scan content not just for lack of time, but because 99% of what they read is utter, soulless crap?
Do I need to be a part of the problem here, even if it may be the only way I can establish myself as a legitimate travel writer to the point where I could do this full time?
Or maybe I should develop my own path, and see where the road leads from there?
It’s not that I shun the work either, but it should be a FUN kind of work, you know? I already have a soul-sucking, dead-end job, so why exert all this effort and play by the industry’s rules, only to exchange my current job for a career that will wind up being just as soul sucking? Stupid.
There’s a certain… debonair quality to how I write: comfortable, loose, carefree, and occasionally, somewhat insane. But that’s me. It’s how I express myself, and I find immense joy in that.
So I’ve made my decision. If I’m ever to realize my dreams of being a self-employed writer/blogger, then it must be on my terms.
Oh, and in case you’d like a more detailed explanation of what those terms are, please see my article, “19 Reasons Why the Internet Should Acknowledge the Dripping Awesome Sauce That is Me.” I’ll be publishing an eBook with the same title as well.