TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN
“The fact is, there’s just as much of a learning curve on the business side of writing as on the craft side.”- Jeff Somers author of We Are Not Good People
Did you see my byline in the newspaper on a so and so day? That’s what I heard one day as I pass by a group of what I believe were media students from one of these reputable media training institutions. And I had an epiphany on the writing culture that we have in this country, and immediately I thought this tendency has to stop, because when I check what these young up and coming writers were talking about; sad and depressing I found that it was one of those PR stories. Thank heavens, our dailies have the space to expose and give these young niches some light.
Although that has been said, it is the other side of the issue that bothers your SCC. Look at how the craft is being sacrificed for easy money and exposure. Most budding journos easily lose theirselves courtesy of monetary benefits. To them, the moment they start writing, they have to be getting their rewards. Pathetic! To them, patience doesn’t exist.
Now the disappointment creeps in when the money is not trekking in. But let’s face it, just like painting; writing takes time to master. Unfortunately, the money-hungry-syndrome engulfing these budding writers cloud their judgement and instead of perfecting their skills, they start losing interest in the field.
The truth is that a good writer realizes that ‘a good editor is actually more of a business partner than a boss. A promising scribe realizes that editors are there to shape one’s journalism career. So, even if there’s no monies readily available, but the fact that your work is being exposed and perfected, is worth more than gold.
That is how celebrated journalists in the likes of Nation Newspaper’s multi award winner James Chavula et al claimed the spot they’re currently occupying. They priotized perfecting their skills. They knew money would soon flow their direction one day. They never rushed.
You see, it pierces SCC’s soul seeing some promising journos being on the neck of their superiors seeking payments for an article that does not even fit to be called one. Why can’t you have patience first? Why this rush? One or two articles and you’re already on cloud nine, knocking on the doors of your superior seeking payments. Really?
And so as we celebrate our independence- independent (freelance), up-coming or established writers (reporters) need to sit and regurgitate how our pioneers did it in the pre-democratic dispensation era (the politics aside). Content was central, and it is astonishing not to have some sort of a Malawian book on one’s shelf, why? It starts with you reporters who hold the keys to the future writers and the current industry state of affairs.
Money is and will always be there for the skillful writer, otherwise if the craft is sacrificed over money, then quit the pen and stop trading words with wealth that don’t last.
First business lessons a writer learns is money flows to the writer, or, put it in another way, don’t work for exposure—people die from exposure “that’s the secret of it all. You may think you are pushing your writing, however you can end up on the same columns of the newspaper for eons, because that’s what you have told the editors. They know your style; actually they have dictated your skills that you are unable to bring something new, and years down the line you, will still be the same old so so with that long byline.
To wave the flag of this poetic license, let us have a writing culture that will change and help build this nation, have patience to grow your writing. After all, you’re in control of your alphabet, not the editor. What makes you think the money will have more stamina to keep you afloat in a competitive industry like ours? Dig the knowledge to that, and sing the nation anthem with the right words…bless our leader each and everyone..! Happy independence celebration!