Posted on | March 17, 2010 | No Comments
By Marcie Eanes
March 17, 2010
Recent upheavals in journalism have left people scratching their heads at this unprecedented level of uncertainty. All the hard work of building a career can easily disappear with a pink slip. After packing up your desk, commiserating with colleagues, and trying to put on a brave front, the question of what to do next is one that’s not easily ignored.
I know. I’ve been on the path of journalistic rediscovery because of residual injuries I sustained in a near-fatal car accident in 1985. I was physically unable to return to the newsroom. At that time, there were few resources, support groups, or even the Internet to help me.
It would have been easy to hold pity parties for myself, especially since my accident happened only six months after graduating from Marquette University in Milwaukee, but unyielding support from family, friends and even my doctors kept me motivated to practice my craft.
The fact that I love being challenged has served me well. In college, professors labeled me as “unfocused” because I took internships in public relations and magazines. I even freelanced instead of just concentrating on school and newspaper reporting. Now I have the satisfaction of knowing that I did the right thing. I am applying nearly every skill I learned from those experiences to create new opportunities. I’ve done copyediting, written for anthologies and promoted authors. Not everything resulted in revenue comparable to what I made as a reporter, but the experiences have kept my skills current.
I’m not afraid to say I’ve failed, either. Ghostwriting is something I won’t do again. After working with three different clients, I found I didn’t have the patience to handle the details required to do it. Difficult clients who didn’t understand the mechanics of editing presented a challenge at first. I would get them to hire me by telling them to do their own comparison shopping before contacting me again. I lost a few, but most returned with few complaints. Still, ghostwriting is not for me.
Exploring related talents that are not newsroom skills has brought me much more satisfaction. After experiencing the deaths of several close relations, including my parents and youngest brother, I began writing poetry.
Initially, I balked at the idea because I didn’t think I could do it. But a friend’s persistence helped me put into words my intense grief. This genre has led me to unexpected places: I’ve been a poet-in-residence for a cable television show and I’ve made appearances on college campuses and other venues around the country.
I recently published my first book, “Sensual Sounds,” which explores love in various forms. I’m also preparing for several book signings – the most special of which will be at my hometown library in Racine, Wisconsin. I’ve also connected with former journalists who are now playwrights, actors, and chefs by joining several groups outside of the journalistic arena.
My advice to any and all displaced journalists is this: Don’t be afraid to try. All those skills you used to perform your job in traditional journalism settings are precisely the ones that will help you find your niche again.
It’s easy to be skeptical, detached and cynical, but it won’t help you pay the bills. Nor will it bring lasting meaning to your life. So widen your social circle. It’s great to have friends in journalism, but myopic thinking will keep you locked in inertia. So many people today are experiencing career upheaval in one form or another. If you have the time, give something back through volunteering or mentoring. Or just breathe. It feels good.
New opportunities often come in unexpected packages.
Our Community member Marcie Eanes explores love in various forms in her new book “Sensual Sounds,” which is now available on Amazon.com.