Timing Never Ideal to Pursue One's Calling,
But This Veteran Writer is Still Glad He Did
'When I began my journalism career as a daily newpaper reporter during 1969, I knew that newspapering would serve as a training ground, not a life sentence. I wanted to write in-depth features on serious topics for magazines, because I knew that word limits of newspapers would never allow me to say all I wanted to say. Then, after achieving my goal of writing lead features for magazines, I knew I would enter the word of books. I knew that word limits of magazines would never allow me to say allI wanted to say. In 1978, I gave up salaried reporting/writing jobs for good, and moved into the world of full-time freelancing. The timing stunk, but, then again, the timing usually does. The first baby was about to be conceived, nobody else in the family earned significant money, we were getting by without an automobile. I swore that if I failed to earn a comfortable living as a freelance investigative journalist, I would return to a salaried journalism position. I would not do corporate or assocation or public relations work as a freelancer. For those who want to make that part of the mix, fine. But I wanted then, and want now, to earn money only by reporting and writing what I'm passionate about. I could never find passion in corporate or association or public relations work. I am pleased to say that 26 years later, I have never compromised--except to teach part-time off and on at the University of Missouri Journalism School. Unless you count the occasional book advance--money that comes and goes quickly--I have never earned a six-figure income. But I do live comfortably while reporting and writing my passions--exposing flaws in the criminal justice system, in corporate America, in bastions of education, in journalism itself.'
--From The Passionate Freelancer, a column by 58-year-old Steve Weinberg, published in the October issue of the American Society of Journalists and Authors' monthly magazine. To learn more about Steve, who gave perhaps the best presentation of any I attended at this year's ASJA conference, click here. To check out his books, click here, here and here. You can sample his magazine and newspaper writing here, here and here.