Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Don't call me a flack

Three years ago, my first book was released. I was basking in the afterglow of an editorial series I had worked on for the San Francisco Chronicle. I created an account on blogspot.com and began writing about my experiences as I embarked upon my book tour.

And then ... nothing. Silence. Squat. The proverbial writer's block.

I can probably hide behind the fact that the newspaper industry, which I was proudly a part of for 15 years, had begun imploding -- and along with it, the careers of many far more talented writers than me. Like many other journalists, I became what many of us in the newsroom had turned up our pristine noses to -- a flack. "That's Communications Director," I now say. Not that I'm a complete sell-out. My first transitional job out of the newsroom was Media Advocacy Director for the American Cancer Society, where I found myself in familiar territory: writing opinion pieces calling for legislative change, calling out the bad guys (Big Tobacco) and demanding that lawmakers create laws to save lives. The only difference now was that when I wrote something, I never knew if it would be published. That totally sucked.

I was reminded of all the commentaries I had to read through as an editor, one by one, scoffing at some of the submissions, pointing out the absurdities to my colleagues, reading them aloud in animated voices -- absolutely drunk with power. And then I'd picture some editor printing out my submission doing the exact thing.

Yeah, payback is a bitch.

But it was too soon. I was still getting over my bad break-up with journalism. And sadly, this was my rebound job, my "in-between". So I moved on to yet another worthy cause -- saving humanity and our dying planet. I'm now the Communications Director -- yes, Communications Director -- for an international think-tank that calculates the Ecological Footprint of nations, cities, corporations. What does that mean? Well, I'm working on that, but trust me, it's good.

I can't say that I've completely gotten over my on-again-off-again relationship journalism. I miss the immediacy and the impact of it all. I miss feeling that what I'm writing about is gong to mean something to somebody, and maybe even bring about some change. But then again, journalism isn't what it used to be, neither are readers. And that's the real heartbreak.

I do have a plan, however. Not so much for the newspaper industry, but for my next project. I've been waiting for something to inspire me and oddly, the inspiration has come from several sources. Here are some hints: Anthony Bourdain, a former colleague's going-away party, my brother's upcoming wedding, "Julie and Julia" and weight gain.

Give up? Stay tuned...

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Blogger Mittens said...

I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!! Write with me - let's be each other's pusher.

10:08 PM  
Blogger Pati Poblete said...

I know you're Mittens because I'm following your blog! Yes, let's be each other's pusher! Maybe we can check in every week or so??

10:34 PM  

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