For the love of the craft

Fresh off a week’s unpaid “vacation” and thoughts and ideas viewed through goggles tinted with the desire to stay home and take care of my dad, I watched the minutes tick away on the digital clock.
Another sleepless night, after a week of deep slumber.
At 4 a.m., enough was enough. And I talked myself into parting ways with her.
Even got up and applied for two job openings.
Funny how a good week of words can sway the whole argument of leaving the business, give up the craft.
The highlight came Thursday, when I went to a tiny community to listen to the second day of public testimony for and against building an oil refinery in SoDak (the first new refinery built from the ground up in the U.S. since 1976). We’d send another reporter for opening testimony; I was there to wrap things up, write something short (12 to 15 column inches, or 240-280 words) for way deep inside the paper.
But as I sat in a high school gymnasium, I watched how this issue was tearing people apart. Normally polite and quiet Midwesterners were getting in the face of the town’s elderly mayor; supporters sat on one side of the gym, opponents on the other.
That division, which has split friends, family, whole neighborhoods, could be felt at the café, the gas station, on Main Street.
That’s the story I brought back.
I delivered nearly 40 inches of copy, 770 words, and warned an editor.
“I wrote a kick-ass story,” I said, headed to the bathroom. “See what you think.”
I wrote myself onto the front page.
It felt great. I accomplished what the craft is all about – observe, write, tell the stories that need to be told.
I fell in love with her all over again.
Oh, she’s a fickle one, this journalism thing. And her days of being America’s darling is tarnished. Everyone waits to see what the next business models is, while corporate owners take an axe to newsrooms to cut costs and keep profit margins high.
She's dumped me before - there’s a lot to hate about the business - but the craft…
There’s nothing better than writing stories that captivate, educate, inform.
Damn her.
For the time being, I’m smitten all over again.
And I’m sticking around.


alister said...

You’re an amazing machine, ThomG. You crank so much brilliant stuff out I don’t know where to fire a well-aimed comment in the brief time I have. This is a most excellent problem for you. As it is for me and my reading pleasure, as you’ve often put it. I decided to shoot a hole into this old Underwood because it yanked at me the hardest. Refinery battle’s wounds run deep. I’ll just say this: you have what I want for myself, the ultimate skill, and I admire you to the ends of the earth for having it, using it, and staying with that fickle bitch to use it some more ;-)