Today will be better than yesterday . . .
Let me start on a bit of tangent before I get to the main point of today's post.
The best thing to do if you want to be a great writer is to read. A lot. Read everybody, everything, all the time.
Legendary sports writer Red Smith once said, "I've had many writing heroes, writers who have influenced me. ...When I was very young as a sportswriter I knowingly and unashamedly imitated others ... But slowly, by what process I have no idea, your own writing tends to crystallize, to take shape. Yet you've learned some moves from all these guys and they are somehow incorporated into your own style. Pretty soon you're not imitating any longer.”
I do this as well. When I wrote my first novel (unpublished) I had just read all of Stephen King’s Dark Tower books. I did not copy the master of horror's plotlines but I believe I picked up some of his cadence and I definitely used a particular character’s first name to be my protagonists name.
Now that I am a sports writer, there are two men who influence me heavily. One of them is WEEI.com’s Alex Speier, but since he is a former boss of mine and potentially a future employer, I will abstain on commenting on him other than to agree with what the Boston Globe’s (and Sports Hub 98.5 anchor) Tony Massarotti once said to me; “he is very cerebral.”
The other writer, who looms a touch larger for me, is ESPN.com’s Buster Olney (Insider link). Really, he is the first thing I read in the morning and the days he does not have his baseball roundup blog are days that seem just a little empty.
In the last couple of days Olney has been signing off his blogs with the line “today will be better than yesterday.” He is doing this because his youngest sister, Amelia Lincoln, has been diagnosed with leukemia and has started treatment against the disease. Foremost, I wish Amelia, Buster and their entire family well. Let the light of the world guide your way.
Aside from that dreadful news, Olney’s tag line over has struck me. This has been a very odd week for me. It started on Sunday in Charlottesville, Virginia when a good friend of mine got married. Beautiful ceremony, good food, great people and some really bad dancing. The next day I packed up from my lengthy (perhaps too long) stay in Charlottesville and drove to D.C. to stay a night in my mother’s apartment before driving back to Boston to resume my normal activities.
During that Monday I learned that the investigative piece I had been working on for the New England Center For Investigative Reporting was going to run in the Boston Globe. Furthermore, I was told that it was going to run on the front page. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that the story was going to be a front page feature. I figured it would be somewhere in the Metro section. Not that it changed my reporting or motivation at all, I just did not think that I, of all people, would have my first bylined piece in the Boston Globe be a front page, above-the-fold blockbuster. I was astonished.
Tuesday came along and I found that the story was indeed the top story of the day. I had a full day ahead of me: drive up the East Coast on I-95 while dealing with the fallout that this type of story creates. It turned out to be quite interesting. I spent all of the state of New Jersey talking with various people with my Bluetooth headset, stopping frequently (because I WILL NOT text and drive) to send emails and texts and doing and to do interview about the story for WGBH Boston that later aired on NPR “All Things Considered.” I had another radio interview request that I turned down because the logistics of getting back to Boston and into their studio proved to be problematic. I finally got back, exhausted and hungry and went straight to sleep. All in all, it was a whirlwind.
That was Tuesday.
Wednesday and Thursday were different. I am currently an unemployed journalist and I have been hitting the job search hard. Yet, it does not seem like anyone is out there and paying attention. The odd thing about trying to find a job in this day and age is that most of it is done online. That means I send out a few resumes and applications a day and hope that there is someone on the other end listening and hope they like what they see. For the most part it is a rarity to hear back from these people. Usually not even a “we got your resume” automated response. Perhaps I am doing something wrong, but I do not think I am flubbing the process so egregiously that no body even sees what I send them. It is just the way it is.
So, each day that passes I run out of a little bit more of cash and watch my Blackberry for calls and emails. Each day that passes I feel like I am getting a little bit lower in the world, a little bit . . . less. It was great to be the center of the media world on Tuesday, yet, on Wednesday, that was yesterday’s news. Literally.
It is not like I have not played this game before. Bored and broke, watching the bank account dwindle and figuring how to eat cheap. I mean, I am good at it, so much so that I am going to write a book called The Starving Bachelor (which my mother believes will be a river of money). Yet, this time it is different. I feel like I have done everything right – worked my ass off, have the talent to do whatever is put in front of me and kick its ass. The approach got me through 12 years in the culinary industry and two degrees. The problem now is that there are no more degrees to get, I have let the culinary world fall into my past and am focused on getting a job as a sports reporter (any reporter really, but sports is what I do). It is easy to feel sorry for yourself at these moments and for a solid 36 hours I felt like curling up into a ball and hiding. My car was towed on Thursday, sapping basically all my cash and there still no word on any job, anywhere.
I had a long conversation with my mother last night and she, as she usually does, listed the litany of things I need to do. It is not the “get a job” speech that uptight fathers give their deadbeat sons but rather a specific list of things that I need to do to more or less stay sane. The problem with this is that I have heard it all from her before. Yes, I understand and respect my mother for it but really, it is getting kind of old. Last night I read myself to sleep before 11:00.
This morning was different. I woke up and things did not seem so bad. I threw out a couple of more applications and waited till mid-morning for when Olney’s blog was posted. The lead topic was nothing ground breaking, just solid opinion on Adam LaRoche to the Diamondbacks and Jose Valverde to the Tigers. But there it was, right at the end.
Today will be better than yesterday.
I think it will be Buster. And tomorrow will be better than today.
And so it goes.