I’ve always heard about the life of a writer, but I never saw it as an actual career that you could live off of. When you hear the term “starving artists”, this category often includes writers. Many of which, didn’t get their name in bright lights until well after their deaths. Even if they did get their flowers, oftentimes writers had to go through some period of substance abuse like chain smoking or drinking themselves to death as they literally poured out their souls on each page. So, naturally, I thought, there’s no way a writer can make a living from solely writing. That’s until I got invited to go to New Haven, Connecticut for a meetup with some amazing writers and a secret writer panel.
First, let's talk about the opportunity. Over the past 3 months, I’ve had the opportunity to write for the Independent Review Crew which is a crew of writers from all over the country like; LA, NYC, Boston, and of course, Tulsa. The Independent Crew is supported by the nonprofit Online Journalism Project. Formed in 2005, The Online Journalism Project's mission is “to encourage the development of professional-quality hyperlocal and issue-oriented online news websites. Sites like this one. We also assist others undertaking online journalism initiatives.”
What do we write about? Local events. The arts. Because if we don’t tell you why you should go, then why would you go? And I’ve gotten to write about some amazing events all the while showcasing the great art that is going on in Tulsa. My editor Alicia Chesser, has really helped me grow as a writer. I still dread the red marker. But it’s only there to help me get better, so I trust the process. So, in working with The Independent Crew I got the opportunity to go to New Haven and meet up with the writers and the organizers of the Independent Review Crew.
League Of Extraordinary Writers
Not every hero wears a cape. Well also, not every writer knew that they were destined to be a writer. As I started to meet the different writers, I started to notice that some of us didn’t take the traditional path to becoming a writer. What does that mean? We weren’t English majors. We never worked or interned for a news publication. And last but not least, we were never English teachers. What we were, were people who had regular jobs who happened to love the arts and felt the need to shout or rather write it from the rooftops.
Did It All Without A Pen
Pens are cool. But I’m not gonna lie. I only use them as a last resort. A computer has been my sanctuary. But pen or not, I never really thought words could provide a livable wage in 2023. Not with the slow death of the newspaper. All that changed when I met the panel of writers. The panel consisted of Independent and Review Crew Arts Editor Brian Slattery, New Yorker music writer Kelefa Sanneh, The New Yorker food critic Hannah Goldfield, and profile writer Jazmine Hughes of The New York Times Magazine. Most of them started their careers in New Haven and then decided to make the leap to New York. What really caught my ear about this discussion is that writing was their only job!!!! And it wasn’t a job. Writing still seemed to give them that same passion that they had when they first decided to write. Also, 2 of them were black. So I saw myself in them. Probably something that if I had seen earlier in life, would’ve led me to becoming a writer sooner. Because you’re influenced by what you see and how close you are to what you dream.
Sometimes when you start off on a new adventure you get to second-guessing yourself. Many people usually call it Imposter Syndrome. It’s not until you realize that you’re already doing the things that you’re worried about. For me, that meant I’ve always written, whether that was writing 10-page papers at the last minute, and still getting an A. That meant writing poems and raps. Side note: One time I turned in a rap to my English class on accident, but that’s a story for another day. The point is. I am a writer, and I’ve been writing my whole life. So I left New Haven with that confidence. The same confidence I saw from Kelefa Sanneh during the panel discussion. I think my only regret from the trip would be not being able to ask him how to become a better writer. But with an editor like Alicia, I feel like I’m right where I need to be.
Until next time New Haven. This is Ryan Anderson, The WRITER! Hoping to see you soon.