Two Writing Lives

I am a journalist by trade and a poet and writer by passion. I sometimes wonder if journalism encroaches into my creative writing time, because I have to work eight hours a day, five days a week. The creative spirit doesnít like schedules or boundaries, and sometimes I want to do my own writing when I have to be at work. I feel the conflict between necessity and imagination, too much so that I am screaming inside, ìDonít make me go to work!!î†

But I do.

And this is what I have found from living two distinct writing lives: Writing news articles has influenced my creative writing, while learning the craft of fiction writing changed how I approach news writing.

Writing news and feature articles for newspapers has taught me to write simpler, clarify what I write and to answer the four Wís and the H. But thatís just the surface. Iíve learned how to do research and to interview a variety of people, from politicians to farmers. Iíve been exposed to different personalities and mannerisms, gaining skills in reading people and how they relate to their environment. Iíve learned how to pay attention to detail that I can add into my story. I pay attention to not only the story I want to capture, but the environment in which that story or speech or meeting is occurring.

And with story writing, Iíve learned to think of my news or feature article as having a setting. I pick out details that give the reader a sense of time and place. I figure that my article should have a plot. I identify what I want to tell first and what quotes I want to use to carry the story along. I put in transitions to keep the story from feeling choppy, layering in details as I narrow in on the main points, nothing more and nothing less.

As I write, whether it is for my job or for play, the words I select are giving way to a voice Iíve developed, a mix of poetry and truth. Voice is hard to find, or it was for me, as I clamored to figure out who I really am as a writer. I both am an artist and practical, a lover of words and of language.


3 Responses to “Two Writing Lives”

  1. On with your poetry and truth! Good job, Shelley!

  2. Helen Colella says:

    Keep your words flowing...poetry or prose, fiction or non fiction, essay or book...your work is significant to all who have the opportunity to read it.

  3. Cheryl Courtney says:

    And somehow we all balance this stuff. Great insights. Keep the words flowing.

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