Up until about a week or so ago, I was working my first professional writing gig at an undisclosed magazine. And if you’re wondering- I’m not refraining from naming the magazine because I’m classy, I’m doing it because I seem like the type of person who would be easy to sue. But I digress…
This internship was supposed to open so many doors for me. I was going to become published, become recognized and have the writing samples needed to land me a job at any organization of my choice. Heck, I was even going to be able to snag a job at Buzzfeed! I mean I was a writer for the newly launched section for an incredibly popular magazine, what could go wrong?
Well, everything went wrong. While I was told that I was hired for my comedic writing abilities and unique insight, I was never asked or able to use those things. I was expected to write in the voice of the magazine and to leave any ounce of personality at the door. I was assigned topics on things I knew nothing about nor cared for. Like that time I had to write an article about things lesbians are tired of hearing. Does it look like I’m a lesbian!? Don’t answer that question.
My position was unpaid and remote which basically meant I worked for no compensation whether that be monetary or emotional. At no point in time did I feel like the magazine was grateful for what I contributed or that they cared for a second who I was. I knew writing at the magazine was a dead end. I’d never be offered a job, nor would I ever meet any of my editors in person. It was the kind of job for people who wanted professional writing on their resume, simple as that. And that was what drove me to hold on to the position for as long as I did. I wanted to show my commitment and dedication….and I also wanted to work long enough that I could put it on my resume without looking like an ass.
But after six months I decided to cut ties with the magazines. I hated what I was writing, hated how thankless the job was and realized that maybe just maybe employers wouldn’t be all too impressed with my weird pseudo insider perspective on lesbian culture. I discovered that perhaps I don’t want to be a professional writer in this sense. Maybe I can only write about the things that inspire me. And maybe writing is something that should always just be a hobby of mine. Perhaps I love writing just a little too much to make it an actual profession. It’s like that time I worked at a cafe and I loved their sandwiches and then I quit and now I can’t ever go back there to eat their sandwiches. Maybe that’s not at all the same. Who knows?
If I’ve learned anything about this experience its that we should direct our energy in one of two directions: towards something we love or towards something advantageous. Once I discovered that writing for this magazine wouldn’t help me career wise, I had the power to quit it- because there was no advantage. And I also fucking hated it. It’s also very important to acknowledge when a professional relationship is one sided, which I fully accepted upon quitting. It was evident then because my editor responded to my resignation email simply by saying she was sorry I was leaving the magazine and that I should have a nice semester. She didn’t say anything that came close to a “thanks” which drove me crazy but proved that point. To her I was just a disposable writer who realized sooner than later the one sided nature of the relationship. But it’s whatever- she seemed to have a dumb face (well, as far as I could tell from the thumbnail picture of her in the contact info box BECAUSE I NEVER MET HER!)
Don’t write about lesbians if you aren’t one. It won’t turn out well.