I never typed up a post about my path with writing, and how I settled on being an entertainment journalist. Well, here it is!
I guess I was interested in books from a very young age. My favorite book was Peter Rabbit and I memorized it from cover to cover. Just to get through the book quicker my dad (or was it my mom?) skipped a page and I said, “You skipped a part!”
I loved the Bernstein Bears, Corduroy, and Dr. Seuss books. In elementary school, during free time, I always went to the bookshelf. Even though I was (and still am) a scaredy cat, I read this paperback ghost stories book and freaked myself out. (Another scary series was Stories to Tell in the Dark). But I was so fascinated by ghosts that I forgot about the side effect of not being able to sleep at night.
Anyway, in 6th grade I started keeping a journal (I still have my first one). That’s when I really started to get interested in writing. In middle/high school this girl I knew was also interested in writing, and between the two of us we’d share our stories and, for a little while, song lyrics. She was the only person who ever saw those pieces of writing. Sadly I don’t have any of them. I wanted to write books.
In my senior year I wrote for my high school paper, and my deep interest in journalism began. Being able to step out of my comfort zone and interview people, and be a part of a tight group of writers was really cool. I found another way of writing stories, one that was more exciting than sitting at home at the computer. I was able to go out and meet people!
I put writing on hold while going to community college until I transferred to a four-year university, where I declared English my major and started writing for the school paper. After dealing with a crappy editor and not having a lot of structure, I quit. It didn’t deter me from still pursuing a journalism career though, as throughout college (and grad school) I wrote for online publications on a volunteer basis. I’m still dealing with unorganized, rude, and demeaning editors but it’s part of the trade. Still, not giving up.
When I was applying to grad school and asking for letters of recommendation one of my professors told me bluntly that I was not going to get a good job as a journalist. He didn’t write me a letter, and he made me cry, but he did get me to change my mind about my career. I was interested in education and decided to be an academic counselor. I even applied to be a tutor because I didn’t have any educational experience.
I was turned down for the job, but it was the best thing that ever happened to me. I looked at my resume and as much as I wanted to persuade myself that writing wasn’t gonna happen, that piece of paper said otherwise. What the hell was I doing, trying to dissuade myself from pursuing what I truly wanted to do just because someone disapproved?
In my heart I was born to be a writer.
As for choosing entertainment as my topic of interest as a journalist, I was always interested in that realm. I knew that I if I didn’t make it as a professional musician that I wanted to be a part of the business somehow, and writing about it was the answer. Early on I read the tabloids, Googled celebrities, and watched E! News religiously (I still watch it from time to time). Then I discovered Entertainment Weekly, and saw another side to the trashy tabloids: Reviews, interviews, chart positions of music and movies. I shifted my focus from writing gossip to wanting to write meaningful entertainment pieces. (At one point I wanted to write for EW, but when I found out they were based in New York I quickly changed my mind. It was too far from Hawaii.)
I felt so secure in the job that I wanted to do, but in grad school I felt inadequate whenever we did round table introductions. I was the only one who said that I wanted to be an entertainment journalist. Everyone else said broadcast, sports journalism, something with movies (directing, I think), and some other things. I was told by my advisor that I didn’t need to go to grad school to break into entertainment (when I went to withdraw from the program she said that I needed to figure out what it was that I wanted to do for a job. Huh? I had already told her). In terms of not going to grad school I guess she was right in some ways…but can’t the same be said about wanting to go into broadcast and sports journalism?
Currently, I’m hustling. You can read about that in this post. Looking back on everything, I’m glad that I never fully threw in the towel. I may have second guessed what I wanted to do in life, but my heart always told me otherwise.
That’s my story, up until now.