Thursday, April 12, 2007

Questions Without Clear Answers

Several of you were very supportive when I decided to have a go at a contract reporting/writing gig. While most of you will not understand this, I feel I need to resign from this slot. I have tried several angles for putting out what is stated to be the desired material but I find myself telling people stuff they already know. They seem to be alright with that but I am not.

I am exhausted for one thing. I work 3 days (well, 4 this week) a week at a job that this week got exponentially more stressful and my work load doubled. I have been looking for work anyway but it is imperative that I find another job - asap. Then I come home and have to dig up something to write about which takes forever because the readers never contribute any ideas. I have found some interesting ideas but I can't use them for this column (it's very complicated as to why). So far I have invested 20 hours, about $10 in gas and 3 nights of lost sleep for just under 800 words.

It was never really about the money but this is ridiculous. It was about a regular deadline and the potential for clips. But the clips are worthless and will always be because I can only devote a paragraph to any one topic. It really reminds me of the social column that my grandmother's cousin used to write back in the Sixties for the county seat's paper. Actually she wasn't very ethical because she was the postmistress in one of the rural villages and she published everything she heard from people at the post office. It was known that she did this and most people only told her good stuff they didn't mind having in the paper, like grown children coming home for Christmas or golden anniversaries and that kind of stuff. But, moving on to my decision process.

I had felt while grinding through this weeks column that I didn't think I could face another one. But I got some stuff together, and only offended two people in the process, and decided to sleep on it. I talked to my oldest son but he wouldn't commit to supporting either options. Then I got the idea of e-mailing a long time encourager, who knows my process and my writing pretty well, and spent 3 paragraphs on a major rant. But without endorsing either decision they just asked questions about whether there was an out-of-the-box way to look at it. I really feel those were things I had been trying - whether successfully or no is debatable - that didn't seem to be working.

So I sent them a screen shot of the page with my column so there would be a real example of why I think the way I do about how it's going. And they echoed my concerns about how do I write anything of substance in such a restrictive format? I am all for tight writing but this is strangulated. I don't expect any magic potions or what have you. I can't believe that God has this kind of mind-numbing production planned for my writing. And I can't see how it would be a springboard because it feels like "Habitrail." Maybe tomorrow will be a new sense of clarity but it's hard to see that far tonight. So I think I will log out before the scheduled maintenance.



sylvia c. said...


Take it as a learning experience and be ready for the next thing. Only you will know what is right for you and your life.

I support your decision, because your #1 job is to look out for yourself!

Don't stress!

Oh, and I tagged you for a meme. (Only if you feel up to it...)

Check it out at my blog:

Hope you have a nice, worry-free weekend.


Sylvia C.

G's Cottage said...

Thanks Sylvia, but out of decency I feel I have to put together a column for Monday's deadline. There is no way they could get an alternate in on that kind of notice.

Who knows; maybe something magic will happen. I don't have any material yet but I have tomorrow to track something down and I am going to work on a proposal for an all county feature on one of the ideas I can't use for the column.

I will need to think about the meme before I try to write anything but it's an interesting topic. Of course I have to find somebody to tag as well.


scribbit said...

No I understand, I don't understand how people can handle more than one blog even.

G's Cottage said...

Author moderated comment from Bonnie at Grandparents Corner:
"Hi Deb, I'm sorry to hear this writing contract didn't work out for you. Just my own opinion, but I think it means God just may have something better in store for you. I'll pray about this for you...Blessings! Bonnie"

G's Cottage said...

Hi Michelle, thanks for stopping by. Hopefully next time things will not be quite so chaotic around here. However, this blog is a laboratory for ironing out my writing life and as such it is prone to occasional messiness.

Thanks for your insight and understanding. You don't know how valuable those are at a time like this.

I edited your comment in order to not reveal your e-mail address to people you might not know over here. But I was planning to send you an e-mail and share my observations about what you shared in your post.

But really the column issue isn't about the volume at the moment. In part, probably a big part, it is about stepping out and taking a risk. The question I am trying to answer is this column going to build the skills I am trying to hone for the next level? In theory it has the potential, if I'm really honest about it.

But the disconnect is that of all the contractors I am the one who does not actually live in the territory I cover, so I feel like an imposter. All the others say "hi, neighbors" but I feel it is dishonest for me to do that because sooner or later it's going to come out that I live somewhere else not in their community.

The one reason for considering staying and trying to work it out is that the contractors are "encouraged" to pitch feature stories. I have unearthed a couple of topics that could be decent features because they are county-wide in scope and I haven't seen any coverage on at least one of the topics ever. So I could risk the opportunity to pitch at all if I bail too soon.

So in that spirit we go another round.

7sky said...

Hey, Deb. As I said elsewhere, the format you're stuck with doesn't encourage creativity, it strangles it. Still, if you have the opportunity to pitch features, it might be worth hanging around a little longer if it doesn't totally stress you out. The part about being an outsider -- try to turn in to your advantage; you may break through reticence precisely because you're not "a local." As always, your gang of encouragers is on full time duty.