A little follow up on the fan mail (see post below):
Journalists are trained to be reporters of fact, impartial cameras that pick up detail that relates to the story at hand. They are observers, occasionally distant and ‘uninvolved’ participants, but always (theoretically) aloof enough that they are able to act as recorders of fact.
Writers — a tag which journalists are a sub-group of — are able to put thoughts into words, succinctly and descriptively enough that people are able to understand them. This tag also includes script writers, fiction authors, biographers, PR hacks, advertising copywriters, lyricists….
I am under the writer’s umbrella, but I am not and have never claimed to be a journalist.
I don’t work for newspapers such as the New York Times or the Washington Post. I don’t write investigative pieces on Presidential scandals or financial corruption. I write what might best be described as fluff filler — interviews with musicians and filmmakers, reviews of CDs and books, feature pieces on cultural areas that interest me.
This is the joy of freelancing. I write what I want, not what other people tell me to. And what I want to write is positive, not negative. I don’t want to expose the darker side of Birmingham’s film or local music scenes; I don’t want to out Famous Musician X as an asshole or a diva. I want to let people know about good bands that they might not have heard, good books they might not have read, local efforts that deserve more attention (at the very least).
This town has one common complaint from people in the 18-34 demographic: culture, or lack thereof. “Birmingham has no local music scene.” “Good movies never play here.” “People are so interested in football that no one ever writes about theater, or foreign films, or … ”
What no one seems to realize is that there is as much of a scene here as there is support for. Maybe no one knows where to go to support the things they are missing; maybe they don’t realize that the Galleria 10 does show indie films, or that ther eare other bars in town besides the Nick and Zydeco, or that Sidewalk features a huge array of local talent. Maybe they all know all about these things, and I’m kidding myself into thinking that Birmingham is not hopeless mired in the past.
But I like to think that it’s not, and I’m just trying to do my part to change that.
I’m not a journalist. I have degrees in criminology and in computer science; my experiential background is one of music, film, design, and writing. These are things that interest me, and perhaps will interest other people; think of me as a billboard for entertainment in Birmingham.
Yes, I tend to know a lot of the people that I interview (locally, at least); it’s a small town, and after 25 years, you get plugged in to a certain level and know who you know. Those people doing things I want to support, I get to know. Those people that i know, I tend to want to support the things they are doing.
So yes, a lot (95%) of my published writing is self-serving. I still think it’s honest — believe me, there are plenty of things I haven’t supported publicly because doing so would require pointing out the flaws, and I don’t want to do that — and no different than what an outsider would report. On the flip side, my insider status (concerning HIDE AND CREEP or local music) affords me a unique insight to a lot of things, as well as a passionate interest that I hope comes through to the reader.
Perhaps I should write articles on things that I know nothing about, or about subjects that I don’t like. But expect the same lack of objectivity that apparently permeates my writing — it just might not be so pleasant.