Journalists Need Not Apply

When I decided to jump into this endeavor with both feet, I did my due diligence tracking down writer groups, organizations and websites available to help writers in their quest to reach various goals.  Publication is certainly one such goal, but good feedback on material, or networking with like minded souls also seems important.  Although, existing stereotypes in fiction paint a picture of reclusive creators.

In the adaption of Stephen King’s Misery to the big screen, I imagine when the word writer or author pops into the minds of many people, the visual goes to James Caan sitting in a far away, remote mountain place in order to avoid humanity completely.  Obviously, such a strategy can backfire if one encounters the wrong human in times of need.  Johnny Depp’s protagonist writer in the film Secret Window also goes for the cabin in the woods, and loses his mind along the way.

The message seems to be that maybe writers shouldn’t go too off the grid for too long or bad stuff happens.  I have been able to avoid danger thus far, and instead have searched for more experienced voices and groups for some help along the way.  One such group looked pretty cool, and no need to cast aspersions, but I was about to send them a note requesting more information and tripped over a line that essentially noted that journalists didn’t count as writers.

In a way, I understand.  This group is built on folks who have published poetry or fiction, and some non-fiction elements compiled into book form.  Apparently, it is way too easy to get a byline in a newspaper or magazine.  I would guess if someone published a book with a series of newspaper columns they could get by security at the front door.

As a journalist for about a decade, I’m actually not too offended.  There is a bit of a cavernous leap from me reporting on a county budget, or writing a column about a high school building lights for night time sporting events to trying to publish a book, play or screenplay.  Stringing words together to first form sentences and then paragraphs and pages is one thing, telling an entertaining story over several hundred pages is a whole different animal.

So, I am not deterred.  I am not packing my bags to disappear into a winter storm or try to strand myself alone on a remote island.  The words on the page have to ultimately be all me and mine, however, I need not take every step alone.  I’ve already received encouragement beyond the awesome support of my wife and mom.  There are a lot of folks out there creating all kinds of stories in this platinum age of information, and plenty of help out there for those looking for it.

From classes in college, to books, Internet groups and a pile of social networks offering bits of wisdom for the process.  All tools I will need along the way.  And I think the increased contributions across every corner of the web are all pushing more than the quantity of material to read or watch, I think the quality is hitting some all time records as well.  Sure, plenty of bad stuff too, but quality television like Breaking Bad could not have happened two decades ago.  The club was far more exclusive, limiting the range of creativity.  Now it seems no matter how dark the corners, or crazy for humor, there is room for it in a book, on screen, or on stage.

The bar should be set high, and like many a journalist before me, I can make that leap.  As long as I don’t stay alone too long or get rescued by someone living in my fictional reality.