Do I become a reporter or what?


Feb. 6, 1985


††††††††††† To do or not to do? That is the question. Whether it is nobler in the mind to resist change and stay upon this rutted path, following the wheels and wheels of other tracks, tracks laid down in other times in other place or, move on, out of the rut into new lanes that have not the shadow of other travelers, daring to do that which I am not prepared for, daring to adventure into a field which lays traps only the skilled can fore see.

††††††††††† Much of my hesitation, no doubt, comes from my fear of failure.

††††††††††† What if I canít hack it as a reporter?

††††††††††† I canít imagine how it is possible to dig up stories out of the ground like dead bodies, and give them life somehow.

††††††††††† I even have grave doubts about my ability as a writer, perhaps deluded into the belief that I actually have talent when perhaps I do not.

††††††††††† Iím supposed to be amiable and friendly, asking assorted questions of strangers about things I know nothing about.

††††††††††† Perhaps as I gain experience, I also gain confidence. But what a risky business that is, stumbling ahead into the unknown. I did some reporting at school, but I see myself as an armed-chair writer, seeking inspiration from the books I read and the places I wander, and the people I talk to informally.

††††††††††† To look someone in the eyes, to drag quotes out of them, how risky is that?

††††††††††† Yet I am on the cusp of life, and need to make a decision Ė to pick a profession and stick to it. If I am not a reporter, then I must be another kind of writer --- but which kind?

††††††††††† I havenít sent out fiction or poetry in months.

††††††††††† Two days ago, Pauly and I purchased the new Writerís Market Guide.

††††††††††† Iíve been buying them for years and know that it is largely a suckerís purchase Ė a book people buy with the anticipation of sending out, then after being rejected a few times, let the book gather dust on some shelf until a new year comes around, and it is time to waste money on the next edition.

††††††††††† For the last year, Iíve expended my wages on putting out my own newspaper Ė a literary rag called Scrap Paper Review.

††††††††††† In some ways it is exactly the same thing as being a reporter, except that instead of doing it for myself, I am doing it for somehow else.

††††††††††† The big difference is that someone will pay me to do it, instead of me paying the whole cost myself.

††††††††††† Why does it always boil down to money?

††††††††††† Iíve been raised on the fear of not having enough, of greed, of learning that I can steal it and spend it, often squandering it on silly things.

††††††††††† Now I must decide on my future, and how it might be possible to make my living on writing rather than baking donuts or sitting inside some Fotomat booth or even loading trucks.

††††††††††† If not through journalism, then through freelance.

††††††††††† If only I had a crystal ball in which I could see where each path goes, so that I might make an informed decision.

††††††††††† But alas, thatís not how life works, is it?

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