Sometimes a writer can change direction in her or his career. Authors become talk show hosts, sports writers become authors, those who pen romance novels become writers of crime stories, and journalists become novelists. The reasons for the career change can be as simple as the desire to break away from the ‘same-old, same-old’ to a need to reinvent oneself. My own writing career has undergone a few deliberate turns along the way.
I started out writing humor pieces for magazines, switched to relationship articles, wrote a few articles on education, wrote topical articles on everything from tattoos to drinking, did celebrity interviews, book reviews, and even covered politics.
Before I began writing crime thrillers, I was a contributing political correspondent for The Huffington Post and The San Francisco Examiner. I covered the presidential elections of 2008 and 2012. It was exciting and downright fun to do. There was exhaustion, sure, but the intellectual stimulation and sheer joy of the race more than made up for it. Even the emails I received, some heartily disagreeing with my take on a candidate or his policies, were not too bad. I handled it. I loved what I was doing.
But, in 2013, when my series, A Cate Harlow Private Investigation, was picked up by a traditional publisher, I had a choice to make. Time was strictly limited, book deadlines had to be met, and I made the choice to concentrate on the series and not cover the 2016 presidential race.
I am glad I did.
Disagreements about politics have always made for lively, sometimes heated, but stiffly civilized, social gathering discussions. The race for the highest office in the land in 2016 did not. A good friend of mine, a journalist who did cover the race, and now covers the day-to-day political scene, was horrified by the vicious, threatening emails and letters she receives from anyone who doesn’t agree with what she writes. Some are downright violent in context, both to her and her family. She has spent more time that she cares to say deleting and blocking those missives, one of which threatened her eight-year-old daughter, whose picture showed up on her husband’s company picnic page on Facebook. Some angry reader, found the picture, Googled the reporter, and sent it along with the threat.
The world of politics has not only lost its civilized, surface veneer, but there are politicians who have deliberately unleashed the bigotry, hatred, and violence that once was held in check by their own strong stance against them.
My friend is debating leaving her position as a political correspondent, a position she not only loves, but is excellent doing. That is a shame, but one, no one could fault her for doing.
Writers update their careers from time-to-time, it’s a fact but—no writer should have to make a change of career out of fear.