by Kristine Coblitz
When I registered for college, I was under the delusion that I could make a living as a writer, so I enrolled as an English major. Not long after my freshman year, I realized that literature courses weren’t going to pay my rapidly growing student loan, so I switched my major to Journalism and Communications. I could write and get paid a modest salary. A perfect fit!
I became a news junkie, and my articles tackled real issues, but I hated interviewing. My professor forced me to talk to complete strangers on the streets of Pittsburgh. Talk about humiliation. Perhaps that’s why I edit a technical journal and live vicariously through my fictional characters who work as journalists. It’s a lot safer behind the scenes.
Earlier this year, however, I put my toes back into the pool by writing about literacy and education for a local magazine targeted to parents and children. It’s reporting, of course, but the most controversial topic I’ve written about is how academic tryouts affect a child’s self esteem. No sweat, right?
I’ve been branded as a member of “the press.” While writing an article on senior citizens and volunteering, I had a woman hang up on me after I asked to use her name. People have refused to answer my calls. People have lied to me.
The most memorable experience happened when I interviewed a group of local kids about teachers. The adult in charge was extremely hesitant about letting a blood-sucking reporter near the children. After finally gaining her trust and a successful meeting with the kids, the leader e-mailed me with a link to her blog because she was interested in chatting about writing. Her blog was well written and reflected themes of religion and charity work. Without thinking, I sent her a link to my blog in return.
I never heard from her again. Only later did I realize that the entry on my blog that particular day was about the “Serial Killer Quiz,” which matches aspects of your personality with famous serial killers. The entry would make total sense to anyone who knew about my other life as a crime writer. Others, including this woman, probably saw it a lot differently.
You can bet that I now have separate business cards--one for my crime writing and one for my journalism career, the latter of which does not include links to my website or blog.
Live and learn.