The pros and cons of creative writing and journalism

Mal Hartigan

I’ve always had a passion for writing. In the second grade, when asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I insisted I would be an author. I loved to write far-fetched fantasy stories and illustrate them with colored pencils. In the “memory capsule” I made in first grade, only to be opened after high school graduation, I found a handwritten story enclosed about my bitchy household cat named Tory.

The occupation of an author is still ideal, but reaching success in the literary world seems to be very hit-and-miss. Some excellent novels go unnoticed while other terrible stories gain national attention, like “Twilight.” Poets never seem to gain attention until after their death, and poetry seems to appeal to an exclusive audience. Writing creatively has always been an excellent emotional outlet and a wonderful form of self expression.

It also gives me the ability to document certain occurrences that provoke an abundance of emotion. Looking back on past pieces gives me the ability to recall exactly what was happening at the time and what emotions I experienced.

But writing creatively doesn’t necessarily pay the bills, unless a writer gets a lucky break after submitting to a popular journal and gaining exposure thereafter. I eventually came to terms with the idea that writing can only be a sidehobby, and shifted my attention toward studying law instead.

I still enjoy writing in my free time or whenever I concoct an interesting idea. I never considered the impact and excitement of being a journalist until college, where I became part of the U-News staff.

Becoming involved with journalism was an excellent idea. I always keep up to date on campus events and other happenings in Kansas City. I have the pleasure of attending various events held by student organizations, which help to expand my interest and knowledge of groups on campus. My first year of college, I struggled with discovering when organizations were holding events, or what organizations were available. UMKC’s method of advertising seemed to only be hanging up posters in the hallways of various school buildings.

When I write stories for U-News, the thought of informing other students on campus is very appealing. I too struggled with knowing what events took place, where, and when. It’s also an opportunity to give obscure organizations the credit they deserve for some of the programs they organize.

The idea that print newspaper is dwindling in popularity frightens me. Nothing beats holding an actual book or newspaper in your hands and acknowledging the hard work of the journalist who obtained the information. Since the Internet renovated how people obtain their information, articles are easily available online. Even so, a journalist still has to craft an appealing story that still informs readers about current events.

Working as a college journalist has been a very rewarding experience thus far. Journalism also pays per story, so I’m extremely lucky that I can pay my bills doing something I love.

Why more people aren’t interested in journalism puzzles me. The potential opportunities, such as phone interviews with movie stars like Rachel McAdams and Julianne Hough, or press opportunities with popular bands are enticing in itself. Possessing the ability to interact with pop culture is incredibly thrilling.

Even though creative writing interests me most, I know better than to pursue it as a career. Writing as a hobby still gives me an artistic outlet, but finding my niche in journalism is just as equally rewarding. Staying connected and involved through journalism is definitely an advantage creative writing does not provide.

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