Pardon me while I vent on the state of the publishing industry…

I graduated from college with a journalism degree over a decade ago. (Wow, I just made myself feel old.) Admittedly, I ended up with a journalism degree because I couldn’t do an English degree and graduate in 4-years with a double major in International Relations. Now, years later, I realize that the English degree would have been better suited for me. But at the time, I was more focused on having a writing background in general, and having loved writing for my high school newspaper I thought a journalism degree would be a good fit. About a year before graduation, I realized I didn’t want a career in journalism, but I still completed my journalism degree. I chose to let my International Relations degree lead me down a different path, and for a while that path worked.

In recent years, I’ve found myself relying more on my Journalism degree to carve out a life and career that I enjoy. It turns out it was the better fit for me than the IR degree ever was. Now, I am incredibly thankful that I have it because I know it gave me a great foundation, even if it is a little rusty, for the work I am pursuing.

One of the realities of career in journalism, or writing in general, is that it is incredibly difficult field to break into or to even stay in these days. Yes, freelance gigs can be found, but a full-time staff position at a newspaper is a much bleaker prospect. Today, Gawker.com posted an AP article on a recent survey of newspaper editors which only served to reiterate the grim picture in the newspaper industry these days: (more…)

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Bright-Shiny-MorningLucky for me, work got canceled tonight. So, I was able to go to a reading by author James Frey instead. I’ve never read any of his work. Of course I knew about the A Million Little Pieces debacle. My opinion of that had always been that it was blown out of proportion. I don’t consider memoir non-fiction. Are our memories or interpretations of any event ever 100 percent accurate? Even if a story I write is 90-percent real, I will always call it fiction. I don’t like the idea of a reader judging the reality of my world, how I need to interpret my world, or how I need to write about it. I read a Vanity Fair article last June about the whole affair & the aftermath. Something about it, & the description about his new book Bright Shiny Morning made me add the book to my to-read list.

So, things just came together this evening for me to go hear him read. I’m so glad I went. He stated up front that no questions were off limits. He has an incredibly refreshing candor & bluntness. More specifically, I appreciated what he said about his writing process. When he’s writing a book, he sees it as a full-time job. He “goes to work” 7-10 hours a day, 7-days a week. And when he writes he just plows through it beginning to end, and essentially keeps off the filter. Yes, this is all stuff I’ve heard before, but it was just interesting to hear him say it & to see how much writing is a part of him despite the hell it brought upon him. I also loved hearing that he didn’t write when he was younger or in college. He came to writing in his 20s. So often, I hear writers say how they have been writing since they are children as if that makes them more of a writer. Yes, I wrote when I was younger, but never with the conscious idea of being a writer. I didn’t decide that I wanted to write a novel until I was in my late 20s.

So, I have my autographed copy of Bright Shiny Morning & will start it as soon as I finish Revolutionary Road–which I should be done with by this weekend. The last couple months I’d been reading a lot of non-fiction. On the way back from DC last week I was craving fiction. During my stop-over in Salt Lake City, I purchased Revolutionary Road. So, the fiction kick is in full-swing. Part of me doesn’t like to really get pulled into any kind of fiction when I’m trying to really focus on my own work, but I realize I need that outlet. Non-fiction doesn’t fill the void.

So, if you ever have the opportunity to hear James Frey speak, go.