Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Post About Writing

Sometimes I wonder why I want to be a writer/journalist. Writers make hardly any money, and it's quite a lonely lifestyle. How many hours are spent revising and redrafting and rewhatevering? There are talented people much much better at writing than I am. There are not many jobs for journalists right now. So why do I want to be one?

(Now I shall transition abruptly into a semi-unrelated story. Later I will come back to the first paragraph, the two stories will come together, and it will all make sense.)

I'm writing blurbs for a site about bars and restaurants in Paris. I have to go to these places, snap some photos and ask them silly questions such as "Do you accept all foreign credit cards?", "Do you recommend that people make reservations?", and "What is the average cost of a meal?" Meanwhile I try to ask some interesting questions too, just because I want to know. Such as "Where did you get those funky couches?" and "How did you chose the name of your bar?"

Sometimes the questions have relatively interesting answers: the couches came from Ebay. Sometimes the questions have really interesting answers: before this was a bar, it was a typewriter repair shop. It was one for ages and ages. Here stood the last surviving typewriter repair shop in Paris. We really liked the typewriter theme, but the place was a bit dirty and cramped. So we cleaned it up a bit, and named our bar "typewriter" (Machine à Ecrire in French). Still today, sometimes people will still bring their typewriters to be fixed, because they remembered this place from long ago.

(Now, I begin to get to the point.)

If I had never signed up to write this low-paying Paris bar listing, I would have never gone there and talked to the owner. I would have never asked the question, and he would have never given me the answer.

(Now, I actually get to the point.)

I want to be a journalist because I want to learn things I would not have learned otherwise. I want to make a life out of asking interesting questions and getting interesting answers.

(I just made my point, and there is nothing left for me to say about it.)


Brueggs said...

This post is really relevant to recent Mizzou Mafia threads--why people are still getting into journalism and why people are staying in it. Poignant shit, Betsy :)

LaurenW said...

Betsy - i have nothing more to say than YES and I LOVE YOU and, i was smiling as you wrote about the typewriter place because I was thinking - facts like that make me want to be a writer. Wonderfully done.

Bradley Heinz said...

I love the self-aware meta-narrative of this post. Do you also want to be a journalist so you can experiment with new forms of composition?