Here’s what I want you to do for the next 15 minutes to half an hour, depending on your speed of reading. Read “For Mr. Unemployment, a ‘nice’ epiphany” in this weekend’s Washington Post Magazine. The story comes from T.M. Shine, and how I know of the story is because a hundred people googled his name yesterday and found my old posts about loving his work. These hundred people, it appears, also love his work.
In his new story, he picks up where he left off in a previous Post Magazine cover, the one where he wrote about losing his job. He covers his life since then, his book and his eventual return to employment. None of these stages come across as easy. But even thought the story isn’t an amazing success story, even if he’s writing about his own life and no one else’s, he writes in a way that makes a hundred people wonder who he is.
So, go read the story. It applies to you even if it doesn’t, and you can’t understand why until you read the story. Here is one paragraph that, chances are, won’t apply to you. But you are going to like it and you are going to want to read more. If not, go read the story and find another paragraph. One paragraph or another is going to suit you, and you are going to end up googling for more stories from T.M. Shine. I promise.
During this early stage of my unemployment, everybody kept telling me, “You need to find a niche.” I had indeed noticed that the journalists who had mastered one subject — such as the “Medicare reform” reporter with a computer file of 200 government sources — were still holding on to their positions. It made sense. As a journalist, I never stuck to one topic for long; so the most sources I had on any subject were three on Polynesian fire dancers, two on illegal midnight snook fishing and six, no, five, on roller derby girls. My writing life had been full of variety and adventure.