It's hard out there for a young writer, especially if you're blogging all up on the HuffPo! Jessica Wakeman wasn't sure how to make her writerly dreams come true, so with adorable naivete, she asked Vanessa Grigoriadis, the successful but occasionally-mocked writer of Rolling Stone articles, Britney meltdown-profiles, and creative-underclass blogger chronicling. Vanessa's response? "You need a strategy."
My senior year at NYU, I interned at New York magazine. I asked one of their star journalists, Vanessa Grigoriadis, if she would be my mentor that semester and she generously agreed. Over dinner one night at Blue Ribbon Sushi, I explained how I hoped to one day be a journalist covering women's politics, societal and cultural issues, like her or Ariel Levy or Emily Nussbaum (or Rebecca Traister at Salon or Katha Pollitt at The Nation, etc.). "You need a strategy," Vanessa told me.
Oh, how we laughed! A "strategy"? (Gin? Or vodka...) What's that saying about the best-laid in plans? We don't learn about the details of such strategizing, just that people should have one.
Case in point: Recently I wrote a freelance article for Bitch magazine about a sexual politics matter — easily the best article I've ever written. I labored for about four months on this piece. And I can only think of one friend who went out to buy the $6 magazine off a news stand. Every single other friend and colleague, without exception, has asked me for a link to the article — which cannot be found online. So I saw my name in print on a dead tree and I cashed a check for my months of researching, interviewing, writing and rewriting. But I'm not sure anybody's actually read it.
On second thought, maybe I do have a strategy now... It's a gun-to-your-head strategy, out of necessity, rather than choice: Stick to the web.
Yes. That's really where the money and enlightened debate is. Well, if you can get the pageviews.