This chapter is definitive of my career as a journalist at UMD and it's place in the concluding part of this book was very fitting. The chapter helped me to answer many of the questions that I would expect myself to be able to answer after four years of studying this subject. Do I want to be a writer by Stewart O'Nan's standards? Absolutely not. Am I a writer according to Susan Orlean. Most definitely.
I have learned a very specific skill set that will undoubtedly be put to good use in my future endeavors. By Susan Orlean's standards I am a writer because I like talking to people. I love language. I am deeply curious. I find the world and the people in it a marvel. I am confident that next year, when I'm waist-deep in law school, I will look to these qualities to carry me through. I know how to talk to people. I know what information I need to gather how to formulate questions in order to get that information. I know how to listen. I know how to watch events unfold. I know how to organize the information I've gathered and package it together for my reader.
I can know and love all of this without being a writer the way that Stewart O'Nan is a writer. I do not intend to take my work with me wherever I go. Although I am deeply curious about everything I encounter I will not carry a notebook with me, always hold a manuscript, or write instead of talk. This is my nightmare. I don't intend to have a career like this. I enjoy keeping my work and leisure time separate. I don't mean to say that Stewart O'Nan doesn't but I do mean to say that I wouldn't be able to if I followed his rules. In fact, reading his journalism philosophy gives me a bit of anxiety. I could never work the way he does.
The other notion in this chapter that I am slightly uncomfortable with is the possibility of constantly trying to sell myself. I just can't do that! I feel like I have a fairly good idea of what it takes to compose a query letter and grab the attention of an editor and a reader. But selling yourself as a freelancer seems a step far beyond that. I would, however, LOVE to work as a literary agent. I think that's one of my new dream jobs. I could definitely sell someone else, not myself. "All agents are looking for literary writer whose work is powerful enough that readers will never forget the experience of reading their work-- and will want to know about whatever subject they turn to next" (280). Please sign me up!
I love everything about this chapter, even the parts that scared me. It is so conclusive to this book at to my career at UMD. Thank you writing studies. I have learned SO much that will be applicable the ways that the great writers in this book have taught me to write and far beyond what they could imagine.