I’ve been frustrated lately because it doesn’t seem like writing will get me anywhere, and I always thought it would.
When I was looking for jobs, so many employers offering writing-intensive roles really wanted writing and. Writing and video. Writing and social. Writing and photo. Writing and random e-commerce skills.
I’m not a Luddite. I understand the need of newspapers and agencies and everyone else to move beyond words-on-a-page content. Writing’s not the only thing I can offer and I wouldn’t want to hire someone who could only offer writing, either.
The thing is, though, when you exclusively hire writers who also boast a full laundry list of skills from the opposite side of the brain, I think you probably sacrifice good writing. Anyone who qualifies at the most basic level for an office-y communications job can write — that is, they can put words together in generally understandable sentences.
But what about writing that goes beyond passable, writing that reads effortlessly because it was written painstakingly, writing that makes people hurt and feel and act. That’s the writing that makes people buy newspapers and pick up press releases and buy products and enroll at colleges. And I think many hiring managers are giving it up. (Likewise, if you only hired video producers or graphic designers who could also write and edit at an expert level, I’m sure you’d sacrifice great video or great design.)
This is a hard post to write because the whole thing feels like I’m screaming and complaining about what a good writer I am. I’m not trying to do that. It’s all subjective and often, I read something I’ve written and almost choke on the sentimentality. I guess all I’m saying is that, if I have something to offer, writing is it. And I’m afraid very few people want the “it” I have to offer in the career arena.
I think the point for me might be that “the career arena”…well, isn’t the point.
There are a few pieces of writing-on-writing I find myself returning to pretty frequently. Corinne Purtill’s “My book was a bad idea” is one of them. Here’s the ending:
My relationship with writing today is neither glamorous nor exciting. We will not get each other into fancy places; we will not make anyone rich. We have fallen instead into a pattern much closer to the comfortable grooves of love: two homebodies shuffling around the same desk, battling frustration and disappointment, witnessing failure and choosing, against all odds, to stay.
Maybe for me, it’s not going to be about getting somewhere on the back of my writing. Maybe I’m just going to do it out of love. Maybe I’m just going to shuffle around the desk and choose to stay.