The Road Not Taken


The Road Not Taken


In 2005, I decided to leave journalism. Temporarily, I thought. I was about to have a baby and I wanted to spend time with him. And my father and I had long been discussing an idea for a book that we were going to co-write. So I said goodbye to my job as an editor for a Capitol Hill-based newspaper, and plunged into motherhood and book-writing. The baby, fortunately, had a good disposition and enjoyed sitting in his portable playpen turning pages in--and eating--his board books, so I was able to get work done.


But the book, instead of taking two years, took six. By the time it was published, in 2011, my son was finishing kindergarten. The economy had collapsed. And journalism had changed. Most of my friends had left for other, related fields—freelancing, public relations, consulting, book writing. Those that remained were doing the job of several people, working around the clock to accommodate the 24-7 internet-based news cycle. I had taken some time out—and during that time, my profession, where I had spent close to two decades, had crumbled. In what would have been mid-career, I had to reinvent myself professionally.


And I’m still doing that, a decade since that book came out. In a way, I still consider myself a journalist. In 2012 I started a blog where I interview authors. I’ve continued my freelance work, mostly editing reference books. But I’ve also been able to write three children’s books, and have various other manuscripts I’m hoping to get published. Do I miss the daily excitement of running around Capitol Hill, cranking out several stories a day? Sometimes. But would I still have the energy to do that all these years later? Probably not.


So here I sit, in this Covid-ravaged, politically damaged world, waiting. Hoping. And thinking, on occasion, of that journalistic road not taken.


--Deborah Kalb, author of The President and Me middle grade series for kids, and co-author of Haunting Legacy: Vietnam and the American Presidency from Ford to Obama.


  1. I have such great respect for journalists. And the fact that you stuck with that book for six years!


Post a Comment