Not a Journalist

In my ‘About,’ I made strong inclinations about the fact I don’t identify myself as a Journalist. This thought hasn’t changed but I just wanted to expand on what I mean. Please bear in mind this is based on my opinion and my experience. Not necessarily a collective opinion.

I have wanted to be a fiction writer since I was 6 years old and I wrote my ‘first novel’ using a Tracy Beaker ‘novel kit.’ From then on, the passion to write fiction kindled and when you are at a young age i.e. your teens, teachers and parents might consider you as ambitious and that is the dream. The problems in my experience only really occurs when college and university slowly creep into your future. You say you want to be a writer and the first thing people/teachers mainly would ask is, ‘so, journalism then?’ Because I had been asked it so many times, I started to believe that is was a possibility. This was only because that was what I thought people expected from me. In films such as ‘Never been kissed’ and ‘How to lose a guy in 10 days,’ they showcase ‘writers’ as ‘journalists’ and somehow ‘writers’ had become a loose term for that profession. Not anything else. Because of this, I slowly but surely thought about journalism as a future career. But for the wrong reasons.

I remember my best friend and I leaving late to have a chat with our Science Teacher about the presentation we did. It was also the time we were applying to colleges and he asked us what our futures were. My friend’s was simple: Medicine. He then asked me and she decided to answer for me, ‘She wants to be a writer.’ He then asks if anything specific and the dreaded word responds: Journalism. Bearing in mind this was during the years of certain scandals within the press that was becoming featured news. I can’t really explain the quick repulsion in his face, but the sound he made was as if he was forced to eat a raw Brussels sprout. And it wasn’t the Christmas season. I knew at some point I was going to get this reaction and from what I as reading in the newspapers at the time, I understood the sound. I then leaped in with my response, ‘POSSIBLY! IT’S AN OPTION!’ I then explained the same reasoning later to my friend, and to not answer for me to avoid those situations.

It was really until I got out this phase of ‘Journalism is an option,’ when I did an ‘interview’ in Secondary school where a career advisor met pupils one-to-one and helped with advising them on what they wanted to do with their future and how that could happen. This was when I truly snapped out of this journalist trance. She asked what I wanted to do. I told her a writer and that I wanted to be a part of fictional books, that kind of writer. Again, she explained to me the problem of drawing an income out of fiction writing (a ‘motivational talk’ I have heard many times before), however, she showed me options of editing, and publishers. This was when I took a real interest in the options I had for a ‘back-up plan.’ Not Journalism.

So, I have explained why I decided not to be a Journalist in terms of a ‘plan,’ but not really why I find ‘Journalism’ a difficult category for ‘writing’ to be associated with. I have no disrespect for those who are Journalist, I do think it is an honourable profession as many are, but this is an explain my I don’t identify with it personally.

When I was looking at Journalism courses at the time before I made a turn from it, I was told almost every time that it was an extremely competitive course. And for me that is my ‘beef’ with Journalism: competition. If the phone hacking scandals have shown the public anything, it was that ‘writers’ would do anything in order to create a story. I enjoy creating stories and at the occasional time, I love reading about people in the real world and their stories. It only becomes a problem (from my understanding) that there is a continuous demand for a ‘story’ or article to be published, and it has to be worthy to be even considered for publishing. The idea that your income and your profession depends on your ability to just write on the go and be able to create something individual to either fill a space, provide something for a column you do, or even doing a follow-up of something that is currently in the news.

Yes, I understand that those who go out to countries and really take in an experience to report back about it with a certain conclusion, but that doesn’t stop me thinking about the fact that if I was a Journalist and I had writer’s block, then my actual job was on a life-line. I had to be a part of a competition from paper to paper, magazine to magazine, genre to genre. Not only that, but probably from within the company: will my article be on the front page? Where are people going to see my work? And with the growing influence of the internet upon Journalism, competition can bring out ugly things such as criticism or your work or yourself, or who you work for. Suddenly, you might have to prove yourself, who you are and your worthiness.

I can also see how a lot of what I have said applies to the world of fiction. But I think because of the increasing scrutiny of the media, the ‘press’ and scoffs over certain publications *cough cough Daily Mail cough,* Journalism had been turned into a Jekyll and Hyde profession. To reveal what needs to be know and to reveal the forced stories in order to be up to date or give what the readers want. As noble as Journalism can be, I think that the fact that the courses to Journalism was highly competitive can prove my point alone: anyone can do anything if they choose to further themselves with personal ambitions or just be in homoeostasis.

So even though I write articles, I do it for the pleasure as many Journalist do, but the fear of deadlines and forced publications aren’t a concern for me right now. I don’t particularly want to be a part of the competition just now. Also, I love creating something purely from the realms of fiction and dripping in the realities and realism of the world I live in, that is why fiction can be so inviting to read, or become pieces of literature such as the economic realities in Dickens’ work.

From this I can say at this point in my life: I’m a writer, not a journalist.