The writer herself

(Originally published on Jan. 13, 2011, on Her Circle Ezine’s “The Writer’s Life” blog at http://www.hercircleezine.com/2011/01/13/the-writer-herself/)

As I’m writing this, I have completely blown my deadline.

It’s not because I’m waiting for a source to call me back, or because I got some new information right before my piece was set to publish. Nope. It’s because I find THIS—writing about myself, for myself and others—so much harder than what I normally do.

I’m a journalist. I’ve known it since I was 15 years old, when my friend Ed convinced me to come out for the school newspaper. I’ve always been a bit of a gossip: I like to know stuff before other people, and then I like to tell them about it. Journalism gives me a constructive way to do that.

Oh sure, I’ve dabbled in a little fiction writing, but for me, real, live people have always been more interesting. Their quotes are WAY better than anything I could come up with on my own. Remember that season of The Wire when Gus is concerned because one reporter ALWAYS gets the perfect quote? I never even thought about plagiarism. The stuff people feed me for stories is consistently more interesting than anything I could pretend they said.

That’s the beauty of journalism for me: It’s people telling their own stories. Sure, it’s my byline on the story, but the mom who has toddler twins and infant triplets? The survivor of a shooting or robbery? The World War II veteran? These are their lives, and they share them with me, so I can share them with the community, whether that’s a newspaper’s readers or the whole Internet. The trust that takes has never been lost on me.

I suppose this is my bias, but I’ll always hold reporters, especially the really good ones, in a certain reverence, because news is really a communal experience. It’s a mirror held up to the community, and journalists have a tremendous responsibility to make sure it’s accurate. But then, why wouldn’t we want it to be? Real life is more exciting than anything I could think up, so I’m glad it’s my source, and my editor—you haven’t heard angry until you get a little old lady on the phone, mad that the Amish Cook’s column has gone missing this week.

What inspires you? What makes your work worth writing—and reading? Who keeps you honest? When I think about my job like that, it’s easy to get excited about writing. But when it comes to sharing about myself, it’s a little scarier.

One Response to “The writer herself”

  1. Nora Says:

    I hate writers block! I have truoble with it a lot but not lately, thank goodness! These are great tips. I find going for a walk and changing my surrounding helps a lot. Thanks for the tip on the websites. I am going to head over there and bookmark them for later.