Hello. I am a recovering arts journalist. For a lot of the last 20 years I was putting most of my time into parenting. (This is not a parenting blog. See my possibly-never-to-be-written post, “Bragging, Complaining, and Letting Your Friends Know Your Choices So They Can Worry About Their Own: Why Writing About My Children Makes Me Queasy”). This began when Said Children were pre-verbal, and, brief break from the not-talking-about-children policy follows, being at home 24/7 with human beings you adore but who can’t talk to you in words of more than one gurgle will drive anyone mad quite quickly.
So I started writing book reviews for local papers, and this grew into a substantial hobby, and ultimately into about 2/3 of a career, by which I mean that arts journalism of various types began to take up most of my spare time, and then quite a lot of my parenting time (we home schooled; I’d take the children with me to shows or to meet people I was interviewing, it was a whole thing) – but without ever paying what you might call a commensurate percentage of the bills.
For a long time this was fine and more than fine. I had a supportive co-parent and the money worked out, in the sense of there always being just fractionally more than we needed. The writing was fun, the films and books and concerts were wonderful, and the chances to talk to people I admired – writers, mostly – was a great gift.
My children are now grown, and looking around for opportunities to extend my 2/3 career into the real thing, I find that journalism – who knew? – is somewhat in a state of crisis, especially in my tiny little country with its tiny little economy. I’m a New Zealander, which is a wonderful thing to be. New Zealanders like to append phrases starting with “but…” to this sentence. I think it’s our British heritage: the silver lining must always be seen to have a cloud, or you’d be tempting fate. In my case, the cloud is that I can’t earn enough money doing the work that I’ve been putting most of my time into lately. So while I shall still be writing for Metro and ARTicle and The Spinoff and various others, I am expecting to make more of my living doing other things in the future, and I am expecting to do more of my writing about writers and films and books and music and the infinite etcetera here on this blog. (WHERE NO ONE CAN EDIT ME). (Only journalists will understand how attractive this is.)
Most of the posts on here at the moment are older bits of work I did for various local publications on the basis that it was work I wanted to do, they needed copy for their own blogs, and they didn’t have a budget for this so they didn’t pay me. This is how most arts-related online-only journalism functions in this country. (See “can’t earn enough money to make a living.”) My new policy is not to write for anyone else unless they pay me: radical indeed. Unpaid writing will go here. This is the plan. Will I end up doing any unpaid writing? One other reason I got into journalism is a tendency to finish things only when someone hands me a deadline; but we shall see.
Meanwhile, here are a few links to things I was in fact paid to do!
An interview with the great New Zealand writer Elizabeth Knox.
An interview with Ursula Le Guin.
An interview with Kelly Link.
A long and rant-filled review of The Hobbit: An Unintended Journey.
One of a series of blogs Metro commissioned me to write last year on the New Zealand International Film Festival. (Metro, ladies and gentlemen: the rare magazine that pays for online content.)