Saturday, June 30, 2012

objects in the rear-view mirror

I have never learned to drive a manual car. This is because I cannot focus on two things at once. I am either steering the car and taking care to stay on the road and not hit anything, or I am changing gears. I cannot be doing both. And now I find that more than two decades after getting my driver's licence, my brain has not progressed one inch. In fact it may even have crawled back a centimetre or two. I went to a workshop today on the use of Photoshop and Illustrator in blogs. I love my blog and I wanted it to look prettier, to get people's attention and maybe even, one day, to make me some money. But it turns out I cannot be creative and functional at the same time. The technology is beyond me. Sometimes I wonder if it's not all beyond me. Or behind me.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

the word's worth

Since I was old enough to pick up a pencil and write something down, words have never failed me. They are a constant solace, a light in the darkness and an infinite joy. I could not live my life the way I do without them. But just lately I've been forced to acknowledge that for many in the world out there, words no longer have any currency. There are so many people out there writing so much, being paid so little, just to fill the blank space between revenue opportunities on company websites. And who is listening? Who will take the time to craft their words carefully, and who will take the time to read them and consider the weight of their meaning, when everyone knows you can get your message across on Twitter in 40 characters or less?
There have been many words written and spoken about the demise of the newspaper industry in this country. Stirring words. Heartfelt words. But words that mean nothing to the men who would rather look at numbers on a page than the strange and foreign language that is human sentiment.
I will not be turning my back on words, just as they have never forsaken me. This blog will be my therapy, just as it has always been, and hopefully soon I will have new ways of making words with my pernickety press venture.
In the meantime, I have a few choice words I could share with Fairfax management, if I had the inclination. If nothing else, 21 years of journalism has educated me on the finer points of swearing like a fucking trooper.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

a word on emotion

This week I found out I'm probably going to lose my job. But not just me. Also about 40 other people, some of whom I have known since I was 18 years old. I say probably because the decision has been made but we have a week to fight it, and fight it we did at a public rally today that attracted an estimated 1000 people.
The people closest to me will know that I don't necessarily love my job. I have been a journalist for almost 21 years, but for the majority of that time I have struggled emotionally with what it means to work in the media. About three years ago, just before I fell pregnant with my third child, I reached what felt like the closest thing to a balance I could handle. I moved from the news desk, working afternoons and dealing with the increasingly bleak state of the world, back to features where I had learnt my trade. Day work, mostly positive content, friendly faces. I reduced my hours to 10 a week, which allowed me to drop off and pick up my two school-aged daughters each morning and afternoon. I worked around my husband's irregular shiftwork, and we managed to avoid the expense - emotional and financial - of childcare for our youngest. It was the best I could do, even though some weeks it felt like barely enough.
Now I am facing the prospect of losing even that. At first I was practical, and when my husband and I did the sums we figured we might just be able to manage, if he did regular overtime shifts. But then I went to work, and I saw the faces of those people I've known for two decades, who were there when I had my heart broken, who had their babies when I was having my babies. And I can't quite believe it's come to this.
As much as I have struggled against my job at times, I know that I have never been happier going to work than I have in the past 18 months. I know that I always work hard to do things right, just as I know that of my friends and colleagues. I know that as a mother, some days I am so grateful to be getting five hours of adult conversation, hot tea and oxygen. I know that the days I go to work are sometimes the only days in that week that I will brush my hair. And that anyone will notice.
And so I'm scared. That I will lose my job, and that with it will go a little part of me that I've become accustomed to having, ever since I was 18 years old.