05 August, 2016

Old Habits, New Projects

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end. - Seneca

The moving finger writes, and having written moves on. Nor all thy piety nor all thy wit, can cancel half a line of it. - Omar Khayyam


New paths are born out of old roads.
I liked being a journalist. There's something in my nature, the desire to be the one who pokes the sleeping bear with a stick, that naturally lended itself to  professional muckraking*. My love of a good story and the firm belief that truth is always stranger than fiction** helped me to frame the facts and rumors people already knew*** into articles with larger contexts and larger meaning beyond the column inch/ page content filler that mainstream journalism has become in this age of content over substance.
Besides that, I was good at it. And I was getting better.

But I am coming to terms with the fact that my stint in journalism, like my stint in higher education, is probably finished.  This story, and my refusal to write something like this that lets the Metro government, Mayor Fischer, and the LMPD off the hook and avoids any real journalistic critique of Metro's absence of actual compassion -- beyond platitudes and photo ops -- pretty much saw to that. It probably didn't help that I accused the then Managing Editor, now Publisher, of wanting seasonal homeless porn. It also probably didn't help that I had the temerity to ask for something more regular than freelance grunt wages while she was working her way into a higher paying position.^

When I'm being honest, though, I know it's probably not a bad thing that I'm not a paid journalist anymore. It took energy away from my poetry. It made me grouchy, and brought out some of the more negative aspects of my personality. I don't mind being an asshole^^, but it's damn exhausting being one all the time. It's exhausting for me and for the people closest to me.

I've been channeling that through my podcast, The Kentucky Muck Podcast. And it's fun. But I'm also struck with how there is no art to any of it. All I've really been doing to chasing other news sources for content because I have neither the money nor the resources to muckrake the way I want to. Besides that, the stories just bore the hell out of me. How many instances of Matt Bevin being a power hungry zealot can I really talk about before it turns into more of the same white noise? How many critiques of Trump and the rise of Fascism in America can I post before it's ignored like street corner preaching?

My obsession with narratives -- and with words --  are really the only thing that journalism, teaching, and the Muck Podcast have in common.  But none of them feed my spirit in the way poetry does. None of them fill my heart the way a good narrative can. Where there is no food for the spirit or the heart, there is no Art. Where there is no Art, there is no Craft, no Style, and no Process. Where none of those things exist, there is no chance for Beauty or for Truth.

So I'm moving into other projects. I'm in pre-production on a new podcast that focuses on the stories of other people's lives.
Between this, my other writing, this blog, my various other interests and obligations, and the perpetual search for paying work, I'm going to be busy. But I'm also going to hitting the road soon to record for the new podcast and hopefully a gig or two. Sometimes new paths grow out of old roads. Maybe it was necessary for me to go back to teaching, go back to print journalism because I needed the leg to stand on moving into my new life. Maybe I needed to go back to things I knew in order to convince myself that I needed to push in a new direction. Maybe I'm just a slow learner.  Maybe I'm 43 and finally getting over the model of manhood/husbandry I was programmed to accept. Maybe I was so nervous about starting my new life on strong footing that I fell back into things I know in order to put my energy elsewhere.

Maybe I'm just making excuses.

But even if I am, excuses are done with. Teaching is done with. Journalism is done with.  Now is the time for Art. And Life. And Beauty. And Truth.

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* Think Upton Sinclair, Ida B. Wells, and Ambrose Bierce. Good muckrakers that terrified people in positions off power. That's what journalism should be. Anything else is Public Relations. (George Orwell, paraphrased.)
** Mark Twain, paraphrased.
*** People don't read, listen, or watch news sources for facts. People generally have a grip on facts as they see it. What people look for is context, and a proper narrative.
^There's no profit in journalism, you see. Advertising based publications only thrive when they expand their advertising, and LEO can't grow into a larger market share without ceasing to be a Louisville-centric publication. 
^^Again, I'm pretty good at it.

If you like what you're reading here, I have work for sale on my amazon author page:
www.amazon.com/author/mickparsons
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