My project has turned my brain into a giant fictional newsroom.

I am so sick of reporters. Not real, live, actual reporters; I’m talking about this guy:

Jay, I'm sick of your whining, and FYI, so is she.

And this guy:

Settle down, Raoul. No one cares if this is bat country.

I’m talking about fictional reporters and all their ilk. My third semester project is about authors who were once reporters and, since most of those authors write about what they know, I’ve read a lot about newsrooms and reporters in the last two months.

I  feel like I’ve been working in a big, make-believe newsroom with Kipling, Dickens, Hemingway, Thompson, and a bunch of contemporary authors. That can be cool, because in their non-fiction about journalism, each personality becomes pretty clear.

It’s easy to imagine: Kipling is that guy who takes two hours for lunch and writes long, windy pieces about whatever happens to be his pet peeve lately. Dickens is a nice guy, but sort of a blowhard, and if he stops at your desk to chat, he’ll be there for 45 minutes or until the editors chase him away. Hemingway is a workhorse, writing five 10-inch pieces every day. He hates everyone else and he’s always hung over. No one ever sees Thompson until deadline, but the editors know where he is because he’s always popping up on the newsroom’s police scanner.

So that’s fun, and it’s also cool to discover that I have things in common with these authors. It’s nice to know, for example, that Thompson read the competition in a fit of paranoia, hoping he hadn’t missed a story. Or that when Kipling took a year off from his work as a reporter, he too struggled with withdrawal from his job. Or that Hemingway wrote short and tight because of his time at the Toronto Star. I love knowing all of that, but I simply cannot read one more story set in a newsroom. I can’t. If I do, I may start gnawing on the book. I need a change.

Luckily, I finished all my third project reading a few days ago. So last night I was finally able to choose a novel to read for pleasure. I haven’t had that pleasure in months; I mapped out each semester of grad school reading in advance. It seemed like such extravagance to wander over to the bookshelves and casually pull a book, any book, out. I can’t even believe that I had that kind of freedom for years before I went back to school. Why didn’t I read more often?

I chose my book slowly. No one would be judging my choice; I could read whatever I liked. I contemplated titles with the word “fairy” in them. I examined paperbacks featuring both swords and spaceships. I contemplated non-fiction titles. Eventually though, I settled on something I meant to read last year and didn’t: The End of the Affair, by Graham Greene.  And I am pleased with my choice, but guess what Greene’s first career was?


Oh well.

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