Kinshasa Week 4
It goes, it goes. Things are looking up work-wise because people are on their way back after their summer vacations but things are still a little slow. The good thing in all of this is that I am finding a lot of time to write, which is something that I’ve been struggling with of lately. One of my pieces was picked up for publication by a national newspaper back home but the problem is because they bought it from a UK paper with whom I’d signed a contract relinquishing republication rights, I don’t get a cent. Kinda sucks but I did get paid by the UK paper so I guess I’ll live.
The thing with writing in the press is that you have to write in a certain style. People love to read sexy and intriguing things, which for the most part – especially on a slow news day – means pimping out the news. The challenge for any writer is finding a balance between writing in an interesting and creative way and pimping out the news. I want people to be interested in what I’m saying but at the same time I don’t want to feel like I’m selling out my values in order to sell newspapers. I notice in my articles that I tend to equivocate a lot – to try and see both sides of the debate rather than pick one and run with it. It’s something I only wish I did more of in real life, but that’s another story for another day. This approach to journalism doesn’t really sell newspapers, but that’s not why I do it. I think in the long run it’s more important to be at peace with yourself though. One of the first things I learnt when my first piece was published is that once you put something out there it becomes really difficult to take it back.
The only chink in this almost flawless plan – to write carefully thought out and balanced pieces – is the Editor. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve written and submitted something only to have it massacred – MASSACRED by an editor. Sometimes they tweak things to make them more acerbic than you intended, other times they take the sting of things that you intended to sting. And all the time if shit hits the proverbial fan, you are the one who has to take the blame for a terrible by-line, or for a quote that you didn’t actually write. I always wonder, in such circumstances, should you throw your editor to the wolves or defend the comments in an article that is attributed to you but not necessarily yours… things to think about eh?
In other news, last night, the epiphany went forward another step. I’ve been thinking a lot about what this moment in time could possibly mean for the rest of my life. A big ask, I know, but that’s how the old noggin’ works. I love politics, I love talking about it, I love reading about it, I love studying it. Could I be a politician? Maybe. It’s impossible to rule it out. But if I wasn’t, would it be the end of the world? In a world where people are defined by what they study and where they study it, who am I if not an Oxford trained Political Scientist? I’ve so far resisted being defined by this whole Oxford thing – I think its a bit of a joke – but is it an awful thing to profit from the name if it advances my causes? But what is my cause? What are my goals? Where is all this going?
Am I still in the throes of my quarter-life crisis? Or is it just that I have too much time to think about such things…