When I first burst onto the sportswriting scene a little over two years ago, I never pictured myself being drawn into all this like I was. Sure I dabbled in writing things over the years, but I never really took it seriously, other than the time my best friend with benefits, Tom Barnicle, and I, wrote an actual movie script, and we only wrote that because we were fed up with movie remakes, and no fresh ideas coming out of Hollywood.
No, it never was made into a movie, but we did talk to some high powered studio big shot several times who liked it and all we needed to do was completely change it into a different movie. "You're beautiful baby, don't ever change. Hey I gotta run, Charo is on the other line."
Where was I? Oh, yeah. So, when a fan based, Chicago Cubs, website asked me to write a column for them, I was flattered and thought, they'd humor me for a time or two and then say thanks, we'll see you around. Turns out I helped put them on the map, and when we disagreed on what direction my writing should take, I bid them adieu, and good luck, and went back to my full time job of not selling houses and sitting in the pool on a raft.
Guess what happened? Another fan based website, owned by Time-Warner, asked me to write for them, and they were actually going to pay me. It turned out to be too complicated for me get involved with, a story for another day, so I thanked them and went back to my raft.
Tom suggested to me that maybe writing a blog was more what I would like and I should check it out. I did, and it turned out to be way easier than I thought, and here we are today. So, what does all this backstory have to do with anything I'm writing here today. Not much really, other than to show how little effort I've invested in my new hobby, and to point out how much of a reward it has been for me to get things off my chest when I feel the urge.
(Photo by Brigitte Lacombe and The New Yorker)
Last night, another soon to be former friend, Bret Harvell, sent me a link to a story written by the great Roger Angell in 2014, (seen above with his dog Andy), and wondered if I had ever heard of him. Of course I had. He is probably the greatest baseball writer of all times, and someone who I've read, on and off, for most of my life. (https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/02/17/old-man-3 ) (Here is the link for you to read for yourself.)
As I was reading this incredible story, I realized how very far I have to go before I can consider myself a writer. When you read things written by a great professional, you/I become so overwhelmed by the talent it takes to get to that level, that it makes me cry.
The ability to generate emotions by writing a story is so hard to do that it seems impossible. Forgetting authors, who are a different breed and it takes a different talent to write a book, and focusing on newspaper and magazine columnists only, there are just a handful that I've ever read that can bring out emotions while reading their stories.
Mike Royko, Studs Terkel, Jim Murray, Frank DeFord, Dan Jenkins, and yes, even Barry Rozner, are a short list of my favorite columnists over the years. If you've never read some of these guys then do yourself a favor and find some old columns and read them. There are many others of course, and you should go back and reread some of their classics too.
Reading Roger's story this morning I realized that I need to take myself way less seriously when I write a story because I am basically just a hack compared to the real things. This is not me writing this to generate atta boys from anyone, it is simply a statement of fact. I'm OK with being a hack, and I expect to get better as time goes on, or not. Either way my purpose is served by letting me get things off my chest occasionally.
While I appreciate the kind words of encouragement I've received from some of you since I've started this adventure, I am humbled when I read something from a real writer. I may be better than some, but I am far from being a writer.