I write. I write about the arts, especially music. And, despite writing about Sonic Youth and Nick Cave, I mainly write about music not too many people listen to, like jazz and classical. Economically, that means I make no money writing.
Of course, I need to make money, it’s a question of basic survival. So, lo and behold, there is a notice from Career Builder that an online publication seeks writers. So, I applied.
The process began with my selecting areas of interest, so I indicated jazz, classical and opera, all under music. For professional/educational experience, I described my 30 years as a performer from CBGB to Weill Recital Hall, my Conservatory training as well as my publications (only ones not published on the blog). Then, I submitted a couple short samples to them. Application done, I awaited the reply . . .
Which I now have. They rejected my application. The rejection comes in the form of an email with bullet-points offering explanations. I’ll let it speak for itself:
Your application to be a Contributing Writer to Suite101.com has been declined for ONE of the following reasons:
– your areas of expertise and samples did not reflect the search interests of our Web audience;
– your educational and employment experience did not suggest authoritative expertise re the subject areas you wish to cover;
– the tone of your samples was better suited to a site either more or less formal than our own;
– your writing sample may have had serious errors in language use, structure, grammar, spelling, or punctuation;
– your writing suggested a first-person, experiential, or opinion-based approach to material rather than an objective journalistic style that quoted verifiable sources.
It only seems that they are explaining that they do not publish any writing; they have a music section so their audience is interested in music, I have deep experience and knowledge in my subject matter, tone is impossible to judge since their site has none, I am both careful and creative with my grammar and language, and I am of course, a person. If you look at the site, however, you’ll find they do publish. For example, here’s an article on the recent Kronos Quartet release. The writer, Sarah Canice Funke, describes the CD by paraphrasing the liner notes/marketing materials, notes the label, lists all the tracks, and then offers the opinion that the CD is perfect for classical music fans “wishing to experience sounds from the other side of the world,” and that the record “will not disappoint.”
When I compare my writing to this, I can see where I fail the test; I strive for a sense of style, fueled by the urgency of my own passions and concerns. My writing is experiential, because it’s about meaning, and meaning can only be discerned through experience. So I fail in terms of tone, and in terms of what they consider journalism. Oddly, the article I read also fails in terms of journalism – it literally quotes nothing, it paraphrases and does so without mentioning any verifiable sources. It also offers an opinion on the matter. I guess I don’t offer acceptable opinions. But of course, I don’t want to!