Saturday, March 26, 2011

At the Crossroads: Hobby or Career

There's a point in life where you have to step back and assess what you've done while looking at where you're headed. If you've read anything I've written, you know how much I treasure my writing as much as any skill I have. Yet now, I'm facing a battle in my mind about what I'm going to do with it.

When I left my sports editor position last year, I knew that I was going to have to face a reality where being a journalist was no longer my main meal ticket. My former editor who spent 30+ years at the paper once told me on the job that with the way newspapers are heading, you have to make this a hobby and find other ways to eat. I didn't understand him then but when I decided to leave, it made more sense.

Folks aren't reading as much as they used to. In this age of soundbytes, pictures, fast info and flashy graphics, it's rare to find folks who actually want to sit down, stop and read something thats informative or well-thought out. Factor in that newspapers are stale by the time they reach your door and it's hard to imagine them not fully transitioning to the digital world in the next 20 years.

With my blog, I never started this thinking that I'd become a celebrity on the blogosphere. I didn't do this for fame or attention but I also didn't do this to be another online journal either. I wanted to be fun, original and share a piece of my mind knowing full well it was an escape from only writing from a certain perspective at the paper.

I write about sports mainly because thats my passion and hopefully my career. Yet this year, I've tried to write more about music and my other issues because I don't want sports alone to define me here. At first I wanted to show that I write about more sports than just the Black/local perspective I had to for work. But now I want to keep exploring that diversity and creativity, even if it means that marketing my blog for a specific target is harder.

Plus it's challenging to write thought provoking or fascinating stuff knowing that folks may not always read it. The blog that got the most attention recently was the one I wrote about my respect for Justin Timberlake. It's no surprise but it's funny what pieces get attention and which ones don't while knowing you can't control it.

I know I'm fighting for attention but I'm not just writing for myself. You can see my thoughts on Twitter as I interact with folks daily on a variety of issues. I have to fight to urge to care so much about readership and page views that I don't compromise why I did this.

I know I have a gift and while I share it here freely, I wouldn't mind being paid for it too. I've had a great chance to freelance for ESPN RISE and the Torrance Daily Breeze over the last 5 months. It's a sweet deal that reminded me why I loved sportswriting/journalism in the first place - telling stories and sharing what I know.

So here's my crossroads. Do I accept writing as only a hobby that might be compensated while I pursue another career? Or do I keep trying to make it as a sportswriter or try to pursue public relations?

Every writer faces that dilemma, especially nowadays. I'm sure we'd all like to be Charles Dickens and get paid by the word or Ben Mezrich who's seen two of his books become successful films. We'd love to be Maya Angelou or John Grisham or Rick Reilly or Mitch Albom. But the fact is that there's too many writers and not enough judgement to determine who the next potential talent will be.

(Ben Mezrich's living out a writer's dream right about now)
The problem that we all face a bigger burnout than writers of old. Maybe it's frustration. Maybe it's thinking why write about something everyone else already did (like I felt about the Fab 5/Grant Hill situation). Maybe it's just a call to find more motivation.

My buddy Shane bid farewell to his 5-year-old blog this week after saying that he didn't make him happy and he didn't want to share his life so publicly with folks who meant nothing to him. Shane's one of the most fascinating folks I've met the last two years as well as a passionate writer on many things. But to hear him lose his passion while worrying about losing who he was in the process - that's the blogger's concern.

I've also talked to several folks who've dealt with that same concern (losing passion) and either left their blogs for other endeavors or lost the desire to post as frequently. As time passes, the vision gets shaken and you have to figure out how to make it clearer while remaining satisfied.

As much as we want feedback and some sense of approval, in the back of our minds we have to remind ourselves why we write and do we want to keep going and evolve or just make it a hobby to release while we transition to something else. For me, careerwise, I also have to answer what the main focus of my writing will be, accept it, and continue to move forward.


  1. Why not try your skills on being a book writer?

  2. My response to Virgo Kent