Standing at the Writer’s Crossroads, Part I

By Rebecca T. Dickinson

“There’s only this. Forget, regret or life is yours to miss. No other road. No other way. No day but today.” ~ Jonathan Larson, Another Day – Rent

Your iPhone says 2 a.m. You have not slept more than three hours since—you can’t remember. Or, maybe you’re the early bird who prefers to write in the morning.

You are a creative writer who has received several rejection letters, and you’re wondering if a particular story you had thought excellent will ever see publication. You could be a business writer who prefers writing about the struggles and challenges of Main Street versus big business or Wall Street. Perhaps you’re a journalist wondering the same: where will my work at this weekly newspaper take me?

You wonder if you’re in the right place, or if you’ve made the right choice as a writer whether it is analytical, A.P., for lyrics, or the pen that writes secrets of souls. The great reason is whether you’re creative or business-oriented, there are so many who feel the way you do.


In the past two weeks, I’ve slid down a landslide of unfortunate events. At such times, my mother finds a way to reopen the suggestion that I enter education.

The point is void when I listen to retired teachers at one of my jobs discuss what more dangerous students have done and the lack of protection they have since some districts, not all, will do anything to avoid a lawsuit from parents. (As a former assistant teacher, I was slapped by a good student who had a bad day.) One of the other stories included a child putting chloride in her teacher’s coffee.

My passion for children still remains. I do not blame the children anymore than I blame my mother for wishing I had an 8 to whenever P.M. life, but I often find myself at a crossroad.

What Happened?

In the past week, I expected the last go ahead on an article I produced for one of my clients. A publication in my home county asked him to write about a piece of legislation in South Carolina that could make custody hearings fairer for both parents. He asked me to write a news article about the legislation.

Two weeks ago, I interviewed everyone who would talk to me. I spoke with many people, and still could not fit everyone in the long article. My client had asked me to write a 600-1200 piece, which I did.

I was paid; not published.

Why?

It’s simple. The article that the Libertarian party leader had asked my client to write was meant to be an editorial or op-ed, which requires a different style. The editor did not want the article. This particular magazine covers the less news and more opinion.

The problem is I did as I was asked by my client, and he also believed that is what the publication wanted. Another mistake in miscommunication. He asked for a news article about the bill. In true journalism fashion, I wrote a unbiased article.

After the news, I prepared to ghostwrite an opinion piece for him until the editor notified the head of the Party that it could not publish any article after all because my client is running for office.

All of the sudden I understand the retired teachers. They felt stuck. I was trapped in a different way, because I would never divorce writing.

I had interviewed lawyers, fathers, mothers, and politicians.
They granted me their time, and what disturbed me the most was the fact I felt I’d let all of those people down. For the most part, everyone offered me their voice, opinions, stories and logic. My former editor reviewed the story and loved it. My client loved it.

It is one of the punches I’ve recently taken. Another is not being offered a job I’d really hoped for, but I kept telling myself You take it on the chin, you spit out the blood, and you keep going. I think that is what writing is all about whether I’m the editorialist, the ghostwriter, the business writer, news woman or the creative writer.

I remember Larson’s words: No other course. No other way. No day but today. Make them yours.

What is a tough punch you’ve had to take as a writer?

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5 thoughts on “Standing at the Writer’s Crossroads, Part I

  1. Elliot April 26, 2012 at 5:26 PM Reply

    Hey keep going Rebecca. The sad thing is often the pieces you want people to enjoy the most are not as well received as others you didn’t care as much for. All part of learning I suppose. Keep working hard and opportunities will present themselves. Try not to be too disappointed about the not published piece if you did what was asked of you.

    • rtd14 April 26, 2012 at 9:32 PM Reply

      Thank you, Elliot for your comment and encouragement. It’s one of those things, and I’m fine. Nothing to cry over. Part of what I hope to do with the blog is encourage others who might experience the same thing. I did exactly as I was asked. I am thinking about publishing the article in two parts here.

  2. befferkins April 27, 2012 at 12:26 AM Reply

    Hey, at least you were paid! You can always sell the story to someone else or post it for free.

    I’m still looking for a real-life writer job as opposed to giggling about silly ideas in a room at midnight (not to say that wouldn’t be the best occupation ever). It feels like every time I apply I’m in a boxing match with myself while a hiring manager watches. No matter how easy it gets to brush off a self-afflicted blow, you’re still bruised the next day.

    Time to end my 10-minute break and finish yet another cover letter. Thanks for the inspiration!

    • rtd14 April 28, 2012 at 12:20 PM Reply

      It is hard, which is why I put these stories out there. I have faced setbacks as a writer and in education.

      As writers, we think we’re in competition with other writers. Part of it is true, but more often we are in competition with ourselves, because we think “What can I do better?” If we’re not careful, it will rip us up. We have to think of creative ways to answer the jobs that are there for writers. I know how you feel. I promise you are not alone.

      The job market is what it is, and I will have more about this. I actually plan to take two classes this spring. We have to accept one, we love what we do; two, we are work horses; and three, we have to keep going and not stay at the shipwreck.

  3. Vikki (The View Outside) April 29, 2012 at 6:47 AM Reply

    Hi honey :)

    I’ve nominated you for The Creative Chaos Award!

    Please don’t feel obligated to take part, but if you would like to, the details are here…..

    http://the-view-outside.com/2012/04/29/two-more-awards/

    Xx

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