Don’t let the slightly melodramatic title of this post throw you off. I’m fine, just pissed off. Actually, I was fine until I started rethinking some recent events that reminded me why I need to make some career changes. Before I get into that, let’s start from the trigger that forced me to rehash last week’s frustrating events.
I got an email the other day from a talented young woman who currently teaches but really wants to be a print journalist for a living. She often reaches out to me for advice and this time around she sent me two articles that she pitched to a well known website (that also has an iconic magazine). The editor she pitched accepted her ideas but months later, still hasn’t posted the stories. Said young woman wanted me to read over her stories to make sure they were fine and they were, it’s just the nature of this industry. Editors are understaffed, overworked, get overwhelmed and take a while to respond, sometimes forget to respond and then there’s also the assholes who really could care less so they don’t respond. There’s a lot of the latter floating around in the world. I have my thoughts on that particular editor (that I sort of know). Guess which category I’d place that editor in? It’s not the nicest one. I digress.
Reading over this young woman’s pieces frustrated me because this isn’t the first time she has asked me to refine or tweak a story or a pitch and it took everything in me not to tell her to continue teaching because there’s probably few industries as shitty as journalism. We’ve had previous conversations about how far this business has tanked so she’s aware yet she still wants to pursue it. You can’t stop someone who is determined and sometimes people really do have to learn by experience but again, I wish she’d run away from this or start her own website and just write on the side, unless she can find investors to fund her. (The business of earning real revenue on the web is hard, contrary to what a lot of people believe so even people who may earn some money might only make enough to pay the cable and or phone bill here or there).
I hate to sound so cynical but the years of abuse that I’ve put up with and even inflicted on myself in pursuit of this career path have deepened the misanthropy I began developing in ninth grade, and therapy too.
So, what put me in a rage enough to write this?
One of my ideas was stolen. That’s not uncommon in this business because people aren’t really that creative since we’re all trapped in a vortex that drains our souls at varying degrees. Idea theft has happened to me before but not this way. The first time it happened involved me pitching someone who turned it down only to write it themselves later on, that was when I first started trying to break in. There were also times that I’ve written something that got “borrowed” and remixed but you know what they say about imitation and flattery, blah blah blah….whatever. Moving on.
This time around happened with VIBE Vixen. I have a rapport with the editor who runs the site, so I’m confused as to how this happened and because I like her, I really hope this is a misunderstanding (I doubt it though). She reached out needing writers and I agreed to write despite the fact that the site is paying pennies (might as well be) because again, I liked her and we have a work rapport from a past website. I pitched a list of cool nail artists/salons to follow on Instragram for inspiration. It’s not a groundbreaking idea however, I did a check across various platforms in my genre to make sure that it wouldn’t be a redundant pitch and I didn’t find anything so I moved forward. She liked the pitch and I agreed to write it up. Freelance writers don’t get paid unless their articles are complete so I completed it in a timely manner. Once she got it she said that it was in the hands of a features editor.
I never got a run date for the story but did a search about a week after the list was turned in and it wasn’t up. Months passed (I wrote this some time early in the summer) and I actually forgot about it until I started thinking going over my finances and realized that they owed me money. I searched the site some time in August and it still wasn’t up. I left it alone and forgot about it again until last week when I looked it up. I found it this time. It was the list that I pitched but written by someone else and with different nail artists from what I put together. I was hurt more than I was livid (the anger came later). I haven’t reached out to said editor because it’s not even worth fighting. I just don’t want to fight this battle anymore.
I’m used to terrible treatment by people in this business. I have so many stories of abuse that I never shared because I used to care about offending people. I didn’t want to ruffle too many feathers because this is an industry where people will throat chop you and you’re just supposed to suck it up if you want to work again. I’m over all of that. Plus, there’s a sense of obliviousness that people feign when they do something foul so confronting them will just be more annoying when they cop pleas and you (me) might snap. I’ve seen it, I’ve lived it. You send an email to clear something up or express concerns in a civilized manner and you either get no reply or guilt tripped for doing the right thing. If you spazz out (as I did in the middle of a meeting once but I promise it was provoked, maybe I’ll write about it) then you’re the crazy one.
Even if it was an oversight on her part, as my optimistic husband suggested, it’s still frustrating. I know I need to make some changes. I don’t know what they’ll be yet because sadly, I still want to create media. It’s obviously not working out they way I planned so I have some thinking to do. The blessing in this is, I’m in a position to take the break that I need.
The parties and events and interviews were fun but dealing with the world’s worst people wasn’t (narcissists ruled everything around me). I’m well aware that life isn’t a cakewalk and that people can be shady when it comes to work in any field but when I did share experiences with people who were in different industries, they confirmed that some of my ridiculous encounters were unique to the business I’m in. My journey to where I am now was met with the racist Indian douche who saw me as every negative stereotype about Black women, talked smack behind my back and said condescending things to me despite the fact that I worked my butt off (after being unceremoniously fired, I considered reporting his shady business dealings to the IRS but didn’t, lucky himl). Once that gig was done (I got clipped for a silly reason too) I ended up at what I thought was finally going to be my dream job. Once again, I was stuck with an idiot boss who made it her life’s mission to make people miserable because she was dealing with her own inferiority complex. There were a few moments when I came home in tears out of frustration. Then there was the gig where I was left stranded in Atlanta (that one definitely deserves a detailed post), the gig where staff would get called into meetings just to get cursed out, the mean girls club (which you encounter more of at the women’s publications), idiots in charge (a large part of why so many of these companies are failing is because of the leadership) and the general slew of extremely insecure assholes wasting oxygen while trying to become the next big thing.
I often fantasized about choking my boss out at the last job that I had. She operated from the mean girls model. It was a trickle down effect from the mean (and extremely petty) grown ass women she reported to. Either way, it wasn’t fun so I had to end my time there. I stayed longer than I should have but it’s over with now. When you have scary thoughts like that it’s time to remove yourself from the situation and I’m big on making changes when something doesn’t work.
Today, I say, fuck a relationship if the people involved don’t respect you and show you common courtesy. I don’t ever want to work with any of these types. EVER. AGAIN.
I hate to sound so bitter but it’s hard to accept that so many of the brands that I respected since childhood and a lot of the people that I looked up to–some of whom inspired me to pursue this path–turned out to be so disappointing. It left me burned out and depressed. I’m still in therapy and I’m still mourning but at least now I know my worth and what I should and shouldn’t put up with.
A lot t of people–the good people who actually treat me like a human being–tell me not to give up and to keep pushing. It feels good to have some support but I’d rather not keep pushing toward the same thing. I don’t like redundancy, so I have a lot to figure out and that will happen in its own time but I truly hope that in the meantime, I can convince other people to reconsider or at least take a seriously look at what they’re getting into. Everyone’s career path is different but my take is, it isn’t worth pursuing entertainment media unless you control and can sustain yourself with your own content and work from your own office, preferably in your pajamas.
Don’t just start a blog, create a network, build an empire and learn the ins and outs of blogging, SEO, digital marketing and analytics but know that it’s not as easy as it seems.
In related news, the woman you’re about to watch is my spirit animal. I’m not sure that this actually happened even though she says it did (I hope it really did) but either way, this is an awesome way to quit a job and made me smile and cheer. She worked in media too and dealt with similar issues. Enjoy.
UPDATE: The editor reached out. It was an oversight on her part. I’m glad she reached out because I really did think we had a good rapport. However, it doesn’t change this rant in terms of how I feel about the industry.