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How my journalism career ended.

November 10, 2015
Don't become a writing junkie.  Just declare yourself to say "no."

Don’t become a writing junkie. Just declare yourself to say “no.”

November 9, 2015

Oh. My. God! At tonight’s writer’s workshop, I was assigned to bring a writing to the group next week. At first, when Russell Rowland looked at me, with that meaningful look on his face, I pretended not to notice. Then I looked back. “Oh, okay,” I said. I’ll do it.”

What will I write? I don’t have anything! They hate exclamation points! I just used one, then another. Now another! I just read Rhonda Whiteman’s story about a family about to emigrate to the United States from Ireland. It was so much better, so much more complete a narrative and had real sounding dialog. It was head and shoulders above everything I’ve written. I’m glad Rhonda is in our group! There, I’ve use another exclamation mark. Rhonda hates exclamation marks.

I am seriously depressed, which means…well, I don’t know what that means as far as writing goes. I’m sure it has serious implications about writing. I think I can be excused from writing something for the group to pick apart.

They pick things apart. I’ve picked things apart. The better the writing, the more scrutiny it gets. I’ve gone into one of their writings with magnifying glass and a razor. I meant to tear, to dissect, to grab, to axe.

Whew! For a minute there, I was drooling all over myself. Wow, I heave a big breath. I was almost out of control, there. My trouble is that I cannot seem to write any fiction. Real writers can write fiction. Ahem.

No. Real writers, such as Rhonda, do write fiction. Don’t be an ass. Write some fiction. I have written fiction. That’s why I never could make it as a journalist. I wrote fiction that was subsequently discovered to be nothing but a damn made-up thing, posing as a news piece.

I can remember the moment it happened. I was interviewing the publisher of a newspaper in Missoula in 1976. The paper was called, “The Borrowed Times.” They had decided to stop publishing, so I was writing a story for the “Kaimin.” I wrote the story and it was published. Unfortunately, I got a fact wrong. Perhaps I got the name of the publisher wrong. Something was wrong, and whoever it was, called the editor, Jonathan Krim, who caved into their demand to print a retraction. I wasn’t even consulted. Jonathan printed the retraction and I lost my credibility as a reporter for ever. Since then, I became a pharmacist. One doesn’t need to print the name of a publisher to be a pharmacist.

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