On a recent excursion, I questioned my choice of accepting to go cave-crawling with a few friends while a perfectly respectable bed of mine went unused at the house. Then it struck me (no, not a stalagmite) halfway down a subterranean cavern that the journalism career I have been pursuing shares many characteristics with the ridiculous feat I was attempting to accomplish.
Firstly, as most journalists will tell you, it takes a heck of a lot of perseverance to sit down for hours on end pumping out articles with deadlines so close that every beckoning moment forces you to question why you even chose to get out of bed that morning. Inversely, any veteran cave-crawler will let you know that, first and foremost, surviving in a cave is a horrendously difficult mountain to climb (pun intended) however the fact that you can achieve that level of connection with this green earth is a task that most will never achieve therefore granting stupendous bragging rights to those who complete a feat of this caliber.
Secondly, most writers will let you in on a fine secret that gives them the drive to continue along with their journey which, to most, doesn’t end up compensating its practitioners quite well: never stop writing. This seems like lofty advice considering the fact that any self-respecting anybody who makes a livelihood doing anything knows better than to stop doing the very thing that puts food on their table, however, it can be the biggest hurdle burgeoning young writers face in the wake of all the stresses of life, work, family, etc.
Spelunking takes a different yet very similar approach to the same topic and encourages its veterans to consider spending the rest of their days rotting at the bottom of a cave; now, if this previous image is too dastardly for you to bear, you must consider the fact that it still possesses a certain level of legitimacy if you actually fancy venturing into caves with only enough food to last you the afternoon. For the spelunker, life and death are the reality which they must face while journalists may indeed have a very similar predicament although they eat, sleep, live, and breathe a reality which can accommodate failure as far as occupations go.
Third, when contemplating the similarities between spelunking and journalism, a crazy thought comes to mind: both of the activities require a great deal of commitment. I mean, to make the decision to venture 100 feet beneath the Earth’s surface you must either be crazy or incredibly unsatisfied with living a normal day-to-day life. In my case I’d honestly attest to possessing both of those traits in varying proportions though my sanity shouldn’t be questioned too much…
Moving forward, any writer will agree with me when I say that staying true to the art is probably one of the hardest parts of the occupation. Whether you are starting out or you’ve been committed to it for years, you will always be faced with the task of coming up with fresh new ideas in light of all the issues that may arise in life – whether it be school, family, etc.
Now, taking a cue from some journalists that I’ve had the opportunity to come in contact with I will say that if you’ve ever considered leaping head first into the field of writing then prepare for a great deal of difficulty. Especially if you’re still a student like me, you may find yourself questioning why you chose to join a site that requires you to write 15 articles per week only to realize that having the opportunity to have your voice heard is something that many people don’t have. Journalists live through words while spelunkers live by the cave wall – in either case your livelihood is hanging in the balance (pun definitely intended).
Finally, taking a step back and analyzing the incredibly grotesque comparison that I have proposed in this article, it goes without saying that in both spelunking and video game journalism you’ll only continue to practice these difficult tasks if that’s where your heart really is. As mentioned before, spelunking is an incredibly dangerous activity that requires equipment and the like to guarantee safety – safety being that strange word that somehow justifies a number of dangerous activities which, for all intents and purposes, were never intended for human beings to commit to. However, if you truly enjoy being ‘in touch with nature’ and having your life hang in the balance simultaneously then I heavily encourage you to engage in all the extreme activities that come your way. For myself, I would rather hang out with friends in stress-free environments:) Conclusively, journalism brings writers like me a challenge which, most of the time, is rewarded in the form of awe associated with other people reading your work.
To my fellow writers, don’t be disheartened when you read that terrible comment on your review or feature because where would we be without our critics?