Writing as a career – in 1940s America

Say, are you a young boy looking to make a career in hard news journalism or a young girl who wants to write about cake decorations? Never fear: Arthur P. Twogood tells you all you need to know in this instructional careers video from around the 1940s. Apart from a so-painful-it’s-funny segment about women journalists, it is rather fist-on-your-chin fascinating to see how news writing used to be. If you redid this video today, we’d see someone receive a PR email, copy and paste it into a website and go home.

Time and space

I got up at 5am this morning to write but I also came to a certain spot. Instead of my office, I am in my living room working on my MacBook Pro with its endearing keyboard fault. (There’s something wrong with the W and Q keys so every time you’ve read w or q I have actually keyed Apple-1 or Apple-2: I set a Keyboard Maestro shortcut to save me having to take the keyboard apart or take the time to bring it in for repair.)

But the reason I’m here is that here is where I started writing a short story. I’ve been commissioned to write one and as part of the job, I had an evening with a readers’ group. When I got home that night, I had an idea pounding away at me and I had to get it down, so I sat on my couch and typed a few notes. That was the intention. I ended up writing around 500 words of story, feeling it out, experimenting, testing whether the idea was really a story.

And every now and again, I come back to this couch to continue it.

It just feels right. I had this with The Blank Screen book which I wrote primarily on my iPad while working on a massive non-fiction title in my office.

Location matters more to me than I realised and I think it might mean more to you than you’ve thought. I don’t know, but I’m surprised at the depth of difference it’s made to me and if it helps me this much, in some intangible way, then I want to see if it helps you.

Follow. I don’t consider myself a journalist any more but I certainly was one for a long time and as part of that I grew the ability and the preference to write wherever I happen to be and for however long I happened to have. A sentence here. An article there.

Part of moving to drama is that I’m having to reach further inside myself and somehow what’s around me physically is getting in the way.

I still can and I still do write wherever and whenever I can. But coming to this couch to write the short story, going to the Library of Birmingham to do my regular OmniFocus reviews, it helps.

I’ve found this through accident. Can you try it deliberately? Try writing your next thing somewhere else and see if it helps you.

And then explain to me how I can claim this helps me write my short story when I’m visibly not writing it, I’m visibly talking to you instead.

What would you do if Microsoft paid you to blog?

I mean, as a freelance writer rather than some Microsoft employee, what would you do if you got the reported/alleged #IEbloggers email?

Or put it this way, put it in a murkier and less immediately risible way: what would I do if Apple rang up offering me cash to keep going on about them?

It wouldn’t happen. You know Apple wouldn’t do that, not with me and not with anyone. If you like the company, you know they have more class than that. If you don’t like them, you know they think they have more class than that.

It also wouldn’t happen because I wouldn’t take the money. I know I wouldn’t take payment for promoting things here because I haven’t: I had a little spate of offers a few months ago and automatically rejected them all. So automatically that I can’t even tell you what they were supposed to be promoting. I think one was a bed. But I’m guessing, I didn’t read all the way through all of them.

But hypothetically, what would I do if Apple paid me money to endorse something – and I already wanted to endorse it? If I really like my iPhone, is there anything wrong in saying so for cash?


The dilemma for me would not be over taking cash because I just wouldn’t. The dilemma would be over whether to stop saying I liked something. And I wouldn’t. If I think you’ll like something as much as I do, if I think it will be useful to you, I will and I do say so.

If Apple did this then I would feel that the firm was tarnished. I would wonder why they felt they needed to do it. I think I would even reevaluate what I thought of the product. Hopefully if I liked it before, I’d still like it but I can’t pretend I wouldn’t wonder.

So. This is what I would do. First, reject the money. Second, reevaluate the product. Third, report on how naff Apple has become.

But fourth, I would say if I really did like something.

Just wanted you to know. Listen, I‘ve got this great bed , did I mention that?