“Since third grade, I have dreamed of becoming a professional novelist. During 6th grade, I began to realize that accomplishing my ultimate goal would be more difficult than I thought. It has been said that chances of publishing are one in a thousand. I know to get a book published; I have to work hard to practice writing as much as possible. I need to get other people’s feedback on my writing, from adults and not just peers. I need to get a job that involves writing on a regular basis to get practice after I graduate from college. Then, I have to try to get published and never give up, for I know chances are slim.”
This is worldly wisdom from a seventh grader. The above is an excerpt from one essay I recently judged. The young lady who wrote it has clearly done her homework. Good writing definitely requires practice, but in this competitive, fast changing digital world there are no guarantees that a living wage can be made from writing.
Fifty years ago hard work and perseverance was a pretty safe bet for landing a writing job. These days I wonder if there is consensus among professionals what it takes to make a career of writing. One thing is certain this new era is full of surprises.
For example, there was an unexpected recipient for this year’s Pulitzer Prizes. One of the most coveted prizes in journalism was awarded to animator Mark Fiore. Fiore nominated himself because he had no colleague to nominate him. Fiore is not employed by any newspaper or Web site. He syndicates his own cartoons.
Fiore’s editorial cartoons used to appear in newspapers until he started experimenting with animation in the late ’90s. In an interview with NPR’s All Things Considered Scott Shafer Fiore said: “I hope I’m a pioneer and not an anomaly. And I just think the significance of it is that it shows that people are actually starting to realize that all news doesn’t have to come across on paper.”
Such news suggests that there is hope for writers like myself and illustrators like Fiore who embark on their own experiment with the Internet. May there be many more successes for independent artists so that when the seventh grader essayist graduates college she’ll have a well-worn path to success to follow.
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