By Chuck Woodbury
I decided to earn my living as a writer only a few hours after my first day in my college newspaper class. I knew nothing about journalism at the time, and did not consider myself a writer. I was a business major.
But it took me only a few hours in the school newsroom to realize that I wanted to spend my future working on newspapers and magazines. I observed the student reporters writing their stories and then editors placing them on the pages that only hours later would appear in print on newsstands. The next morning I watched other students read those newspapers. I marveled at how quickly and effectively the reporters’ words were communicated to the masses. I wanted to be part of that world.
In the years that followed, I published a number of mostly short-lived and ill-fated specialty newspapers and magazines. Later, I decided to try writing for national newspapers and magazines. For the next decade that’s what I did, making just enough to live. But I loved sharing my words and pictures with thousands, sometimes millions of people.
I have been writing professionally now for more than 30 years. I am still addicted to writing stories and sharing them publicly. I love communicating with you in this newsletter.
But it’s a confusing time to be a professional writer. It’s no longer necessary to write for a newspaper or magazine to express yourself to a wide audience. Free blogging sites like Blogger.com along with Facebook allow anyone to circulate their writing and photos far and wide. If you are active on Facebook, you know the thrill of posting something and then reading the responses from friends, family and even strangers. The process is addictive.
I SNUCK AWAY LAST WEEKEND for two nights of camping. My campsite at the La Conner, Wash., Thousand Trails park was right along the shore of an inlet on Puget Sound. I awoke to a beautiful scene — calm waters, Whidbey Island in the distance, a bald eagle perched atop a tall tree, and puffy clouds colored orange by the early morning sun. I snapped a quick photo from outside my motorhome’s front door, and then, without the slightest hesitation, I knew I MUST post it to Facebook. Moments later, people from far away were commenting on it. Wow! In the old days, what I wrote for publication may not have been read for months. Now, it takes a few minutes for a message to circle the Earth.
Even though I still earn my living as a writer, I wonder if one day when I no longer need to write for my livelihood if I could get the same satisfaction from posting to Facebook and on free blogs. I have a feeling I could.
It’s an exciting time to be an observer of media and mass communication. I love watching it all evolve. I bet 20 years from now we will view how we communicate today as primitive. Printed daily newspapers, I suspect, will be history. Who could have imagined Facebook at the turn of the 21st century? Some kid in a dorm room is probably already dreaming up something even more remarkable.
Photo: the early morning scene from my RV’s front door that I posted on Facebook (using my Verizon MiFi card to get Internet access).