Journalism is pretty much my boyfriend.
I spend the majority of my days with it, thinking about it and/or talking about it. It’s exciting and exhilarating. I’m passionate about it while it opens my mind to new experiences, people and places. Everything a typical significant other should do for you.
But last week, journalism and I fought.
It was ugly. It was one of those mud-slinging, dirty- laundry-airing, smack-down kind of arguments. I yelled, cried and considered ending our relationship.
For the first time in years of writing for newspapers and magazines, I had to admit defeat when my story was cut from publication. As much as I tried not to take it personally, the insult stung like a pointed dig you wish you could take back the moment it slips from your lips.
Working on an article about an upcoming annual event in the aboriginal community that will be held in Winnipeg, I hit roadblock after roadblock. From organizing officials being out of town all week, to “no comment” and “I don’t know” lines, to being passed along to up to three people by long-distance phone call – I was practically tearing out my hair. By mid-week I had zero interviews completed. Waiting for the beep, I grew increasingly frustrated with every cheery voicemail message of a person that would turn out not to return my call. Finally after four straight days of cold calls with no results, I talked to my editor and we made the call to drop the story.
As a writer it’s incredibly frustrating to not be able to tell a story that deserves to be told. After all, that’s my job. Personally, I usually find the very chase I struggled with last week the best part of the process. Sure, I love choosing well-spoken quotes, crafting sentences and gauging reaction to the articles I write, but all that comes after talking to people.
The art of conversation with individuals I most likely would never get to talk to otherwise about topics as random as graffiti, suburbs or rock and roll, is the best part of journalism to me. It’s when I get to shut up, listen and learn.
It still amazes me that complete strangers will let me intrude on their day to ask questions about their lives, their beliefs and their struggles. But the most astounding part is that they trust me enough to tell me their incredible stories – usually without more than a short phone call or e-mail.
So while my relationship with journalism is still complicated, I decided we’ve been together too long to throw away that kind of connection in light of one ugly fight.
Because at the end of the day, trust is what makes a relationship work.