Friday, December 14, 2007

Exploiting the news for pay

A writer’s best friend is the news. Whether you’re a journalist, poet or novelist, you can always find something to inspire you. You then simply translate your epiphany to a published work.

Many of my poems have been written as a result of something that happened, something that inspired me to speak. I recall seeing the story of a river that flooded a community. Ironically, this was the second time the river did this. I found myself wondering why these people would rebuild without resolving the issue in the first place. I wrote the poem, “Monologue by a River,” and it was published by an educational publisher then included in my collection A Poetry Break. I guess because the poem is a sonnet, people latch onto it.

I just finished an article for a new client I provide content to, Beyond Madison Avenue. This is a really fun account for me; blogging for a client is definitely a plus since I seem addicted to this form. I’d seen a PBS clip about Dr. Ron Paul’s remarkable fundraising via the Internet. I found it fascinating that a candidate could raise the kind of money he did without his official organizers doing a thing to orchestrate it. To read the story, visit Beyond Madison Avenue.

After Ken Burns’ movie The War aired, he came to the University of North Florida to do a lecture. I cover news here in Jax, so I went to the lecture and then arranged a followup interview. Burns and his script writer Geoffrey C. Ward will be the cover feature for The Writer in March, 2008. Chuck Leddy did the article about Ward; I wrote about Burns.

I learned about an Orlando mom who got sued for writing a blog. That spurred me to look into liability issues for writers, a topic I believe will increase in importance because, let’s face it, everybody wants to write these days. With lots of help from fellow members in the American Society of Journalists and Authors, I interviewed a leading intellectual property rights attorney. I cover the topics of liability and copyright issues in my column Web Savvy at the online site for The Writer—part I published yesterday and part II will go live around the end of the year.

I admit I’m an avid (even rabid) consumer of news. I’ll read anything if it’s topical. It brings me pleasure to know what’s happening in the world. And it also helps me to publish freelance work. Win-Win.

Poets who read Creative Writer US may want to read the interview I did with Donald Hall in the December issue of The Writer. And watch for a story I did about Hanukkah for The Florida Times Union.

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