Back in January I wrote about the overturning of the life sentence for child rapist Philip Sullivan. I discussed the sentencing in rape cases in the Irish courts. Working down in the Four Courts you get to see a lot of things that you wouldn’t necessarily agree with.
I’m used to writing nice, clean, impartial copy on the facts of the case for work but here I don’t have to be quite so impartial. This blog contains my own views and while, even here, I might hold back on occasion if there’s something I feel strongly on it will eventually be written about.
Writing a blog can feel a bit like shouting into the darkness. You sit at your computer and type away and chances are the vast majority of readers will drop by without leaving a comment. That’s why when someone does comment on something I’ve written it is always much appreciated.
I got a comment for the Philip Sullivan piece a couple of days ago that quite simply made this thing I do worthwhile. I’ve had comments on court related posts before but usually from people who disagree with my point of view. This comment on the other hand was from someone who has good reason to feel passionately about the subject of rape sentencing because she has been through the ordeal of facing her rapist in court. You can read the comments at the bottom of the Sullivan post.
Way back when I first considered journalism as a career I had visions of being the kind of crusading hack that you see in the movies. After a total of five years in college I was happy to get whatever shift work came my way and any crusading tendencies got quickly swamped by the necessity to pay the bills and a general news room cynicism. The problem with being on a general news beat, especially in broadcast journalism, is that stories rush past so quickly during a day that you don’t really have time to have an emotional reaction to any of them.
When you’re stuck finding enough stories to fill five minute hourly bulletins there’s no time to save the world. Even as a freelance I find myself writing about stuff I know will sell rather than anything that will make a difference.
Down in the courts it’s easy to get blind to it all. There’s such a never ending stream of human misery down there that a certain gallows humour tends to develop and stocks of sympathy run dangerously low.
But I suppose deep down inside, what I’m really looking for is appreciation, in a rather puppy like way. I know that the dream has always been for someone to come up to me and say, spontaneously without me fishing for it, that they love what I write. I’m not talking about editors and agents here but about the end readers. I became a writer because I had an emotional response to what I was reading and I suppose that’s what I want to give to someone else.
This has ended up a rather advanced navel gazing exercise so please excuse me. I was proud to receive the comment on the Sullivan post and it made me think about why I became a journalist in the first place. That bleeds into why I became a writer and this is the result.