Every writer has been told at least once to “write what you’re passionate about.” I guess I’ve always been somewhat of an exception to that advice, although not really intentionally.
Another piece of advice along the same lines is to develop a niche, something you know very well and have been able to write about successfully. Back in the day, natural gas development was one of my niches. Not really by choice. The newspaper I worked for at the time had the bureau I worked in right in the middle of intense gas drilling. It made sense to focus much of my efforts on that topic.
I don’t live in the same area and haven’t written about natural gas in many years. Maybe some people who read my stories back then might still think of me when they read a gas-related story today. But if I had to pick something I find a strong interest in writing about now, two topics come to mind.
The potential uses of hemp caught my attention a few years ago when I wrote a freelance story for a new magazine. The people involved in trying to jump on the popularity bandwagon of growing hemp — and maybe making a lot of money — seemed to have good reasons. It’s a plant with centuries of proven beneficial uses besides the popular CBD products we hear about so often.
The second topic is climate change. It makes sense to me that human development and population growth over the centuries have harmed the earth. No other species on this planet does anything to the extent we do in terms of what we put in the air and water. It’s not natural; it changes things and I’d wager it affects plants, animals, insects and fish, along with pretty much every other species.
We only know about one planet that supports the species we have on the earth. So it seems like a good idea to do all we can to protect it and stop harming it. But because it’s such a politically divisive issue, countries don’t act and even backtrack on agreements to move in safer directions.
So there seems to be a vast number of stories to tell in both areas. One story could be to see if there has been research done showing how hemp affects climate change and vice versa.
At any rate, I want to keep those two topics in mind as potential niches as I focus my storytelling and journalistic efforts. I don’t want to avoid other stories and subjects, because I still find the variety of topics and stories the main appeal to continuing in this often frustrating career choice.
But as I’ve written before, I became a journalist to help make a difference and make a small part of the world a better place for all. Maybe focusing on hemp and climate change can help make that happen in some — hopefully important to someone — way.