Thursday, November 6, 2008

do i miss it?

For one of the only times in my adult life, I am not working for a newspaper. It's odd ... almost like there's a part of me missing. I'm not pushing to beat a deadline. I'm not out trying to get someone to talk to me (who will probably lie anyway).

For most of my life I have loved newspapers like I've loved women: often too much, and just as often not well. In the past year, though, I've become so disenchanted with the shrinking world of newspapers (and the idiots who run them) that I did something I never expected to do: I quit. Walked away. Said the hell with it.

I had to. I'd been pushed and prodded and pressed until I simply didn't care anymore. To do the work at a daily newspaper -- to do it well, I mean -- you have to have a passion for it. For a long time I had that, but the last eight months or so simply wore me down to the point where I didn't have anything left to give.

I hate it. I made some decisions I shouldn't have. But I also met some really good people with whom I was pleased to work (and one tremendous, egotistical pain in the ass). I miss some of those people, but I made a decision that's made my life better.

I'm still writing. I'm working on a novel, plus doing some freelance work for magazines. I can at least tell myself that I'm keeping my hand in the world of journalism. I'm also working a job with regular hours. I know when I go in. I know when I take lunch. I know when I get off. It's definitely a change of pace, especially when a short day at my last position was 12 hours. I guess it really hit me on election night: It was the first time I can remember when I wasn't up late, waiting on ballot reports from the Associated Press, waiting to make a call to the winners and losers. It wasn't my responsibility anymore. And that felt good. I went to bed early that night -- simply because I could.

And man, it was worth it. I still miss reporting and editing. I miss it like an amputee misses a limb. Once journalism is in your blood, it's there. It simply doesn't come out. But I wouldn't trade where I am now for where I was back then.

Not by a long shot.