Letting Go is Growth

 
 
This post is going to be a bit vague, because I'm not yet sure I want to talk about what happened.  I know I'm not interested in any blaming or finger-pointing.  I'm simply interested in talking about something I went through and what I've learned from it.  As of now, I have resigned from the position in question; however, after having spoken with some interested parties, I am keeping an open mind.  After all, one never knows what will happen in the future, and I fully believe that most wounds can be healed.
 
Up until Sunday, I was a reporter and the editorial coordinator for CapitalWitch, the Washington, DC bureau of the Pagan Newswire Collective.   There was a story that was run week before last in a way with which I did not feel comfortable.  There was fallout (and ripples are still being felt,) and there were, of course, very high emotions.  In the aftermath, I was involved in discussions with all kinds of people, mostly PNC people.  I sat with my feelings about the whole situation and with the discussions I'd had with everyone while I was on vacation last week.  I could not get to a place where I felt comfortable with things, so I resigned yesterday.
 
I have since spoken with a few of the people involved, and I am keeping an open mind.  I will not burn this bridge, but I do need time to process, to learn more, and to decide whether the organization is right for me or not.  Through it all, people have told me, "No matter what you do, please keep writing."  That feels good, and that is definitely the plan.  (That is why Principled Witchery exists!) The encouragement feels good.  The fact that key people are not taking my resignation personally is also good.  I'm at peace with this.

So, what did I learn from all of this?  Well, I'm still processing, but one big thing I learned is what kind of writer and reporter I want to be and what kind I don't.  My existing experience is in things like events coverage, book and film reviews, interviews, small business/organizational profiles, etc.  I have worked on very few feature stories and nothing remotely this sensitive. From this latest situation, I have learned that I have a preference for the neutral voice (unless I am blogging or writing an editorial) and that I don't want to be involved with "sensational" writing.  (This felt sensational to me.)  I feel like, in maintaining emotional distance from a story, it is easier to craft a well-balanced story, and it is easier to identify sources that will truly help to present a balanced view of a situation.  This was all stuff I had never thought about before, so it was a valuable lesson for me. It will help me target my job applications better. 

Does this mean I will never cover a sensitive story?  Not at all; however, I am more likely to go outside of my own community(ies) to do it. There have been many such stories I've read over the years that I've felt would have been fascinating to cover.  This particular situation just hit a little too close to home for my comfort, so I had to look at that.

I have been called a slow writer, and I am OK with that.  The fact of the matter is that writing is not all I do.  I run a business.  I have a day job to pay my bills.  I have elderly parents, and I have an elderly cat who requires almost daily care.  I have a lot on my plate, so unless I have a day off from work, my likelihood of turning around a story in a day's time is fairly low.  When I am reporting, I tend to let the people I'm covering know this and am able to give them a timeline.  I have heard no complaints.  I even have two chapbooks I've been working on for five years now! 

Taking my time, I find, helps me to minimize mistakes, to fact check, and to follow up with contacts for clarifications, should they be needed.  It also gives me room to breathe, which is very important.  No one is at his/her best when rushed.  There are also times when I can bang out an article in an hour. It doesn't happen often, but I have been known to do it. 

Another lesson I have gleaned from my recent experience is what my comfort level is.  I probably would not thrive in a newsroom where I had to be "on" all the time.  I'm better suited, I think, for stories that take time to develop.  It may just be the artist in me.  I take pride in stories well-crafted.  (Multiple edits made before the "publish" button is hit don't hurt, either.)

The biggest lesson I've drawn from this adventure is that I'm really OK with where I am as a writer.  I may not be a best-seller or over-the-top spectacular, but I do OK.  People generally like what I write.  People want me to keep writing.  I can live with that!  Who couldn't?

Though this all did not end the way everyone had hoped, I can say that my time with PNC and with CapitalWitch was time well spent.  It was educational, I got to stretch a bit, and I got to collaborate with some great people!  It was a substantial two years, in terms of my life as a writer, and my time with these organizations also gave me the support, experience, and opportunities I do not get via my day job.

This experience has given me a lot for which to be thankful! 

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