Monday, November 06, 2006

Blogging, Journalism and My Ego

Blogging is a lot like writing a newspaper column — but without the pay. Way back when (1996 — 2000) I wrote a weekly opinion column for a local newspaper called The East York Mirror.

There are differences between the two — good ones. With a blog there are no deadlines other than those I impose, I’m free to write about whatever interests me and no one edits my precious words. That always hurt. Adlai Stevenson once said, “Newspaper editors separate the wheat from the chaff — and print the chaff.” A cynical writer such as myself is inclined to believe this. It soothes injured pride.

I had fun with that column. Women in the neighbourhood would tell me they’d hung columns of mine on their refrigerator doors — those dealing with family, kids, female angst, etc. I was famous! Okay, I was slightly well-known for some of my work but still…what a rush.

And then one day, I quit. We’re not talking freedom of the press issues, abuse of my professional integrity or any other such worthwhile cause prompting me to take the proverbial hike. I simply got tired of being told to write about political issues (which had not been the directive when hired). There weren’t a whole hell of a lot of major political issues going on in this little neck of the woods and those that did exist were covered on the front page, the editorial page and by another columnist. Why did they need a fourth person to cover this stuff and, hey, didn’t they note the positive reader response to my “slice of life” columns?? It made sense (to me) to write about something else — something that had garnered a fan base.

Final word from the powers on high? Write about political issues with an occasional personal column. Final word from me? Nope, I don’t really want to do that. (I didn’t actually say that. I resigned in a professional manner — no whining.)

What did I learn from this experience?

  1. I prefer being my own boss. Hence, the freelance writing.
  2. No amount of money could sway me as to my final decision. (As if. I was paid peanuts.) Actually, money did matter. My pittance of a salary enabled me to quit with nary a thought as to financial consequences.
  3. I am quite capable of taking directions from "superiors" but not if those directions lack common sense.
  4. The first stirrings of megalomania began to take root in my psyche. There are moments (when my ego is healthy and/or overblown) I believe that if I were able to take charge of such a newspaper — or for that matter, certain businesses, governments, the world — things would run smoothly, logically and above all, with common sense.
Reality is highly overrated. Lofty dreams feed the soul.


lynn said...

Speaking of writing, I ordered your book today - the reviews were absolutely fabulous!! I cannot wait to sit down with it this weekend.

Beth said...

Many thanks.