Saturday, March 26, 2011

Random Thoughts: When My Dreams of Being a Writer Were Crushed

When I was growing up, the only thing I ever thought about was being a professional baseball player.  I had dreams of being the starting shortstop for the San Diego Padres, make millions and then spend the rest of my life partying.  However, when I realized that I could not hit, and I was a sloth in the field, I figured it was time to pick a new goal.

I was one of the few 10 year-olds that read the sports page and Sports Illustrated cover-to-cover.  The more that I read, the more I realized that this was the profession that I wanted.  On career day, I told everyone that I would be a beat writer for the Padres, and have several articles published.  Everyone else wanted to be a doctor, lawyer, or movie star.

Fast forward to 2001, my sophomore year, at Grossmont High, in La Mesa, CA.  I stepped foot into my journalism class, excited to become a "published" writer.  I was in the class that was responsible for producing our schools newspaper.  I had many ideas about articles that I could write for the sports page.  2,000 people would see my sports opinions, and it would be the start of a great career.

Our first assignment was to come up with ten story ideas from the paper.  Naturally, all of the ideas were about sports, some about professional sports, and a few about the teams at the High School.  The teacher rejected them all.  I was assigned to write a story about our school's poor attendance.  A quite compelling read.

After I submitted a riveting 500 word feature, it was cut down to an anonymous 134 word opinion piece, relegated to the bottom of page 4.  A little discouraging, but perhaps I just needed better ideas.

So I sat down at my desk and tried to bang out some new ideas.  The NFL season was fast approaching, and I figured a preview of the upcoming season would be a good read.  I even submitted a few ideas about news around the school.  Seven more ideas, all were rejected.  Again I was assigned a story about teenage drinking.  Blah,blah,blah,we have all heard that before.

After six long, discouraging weeks, I was finally assigned a story about sports, although it was about surfing.  Anyone who has seen me with my shirt off, knows that I do not have the slightest interest in this sport.  However, it was a sports article, so i tried to be enthusiastic about the article, and I feel I did a good job on it, researching the sport, and talking to a few avid surfers; the article was never published.

My next sports assignment was to write a story on our school's placekicker, who happened to be a female.  I figured this would be a great story, it is not every day that you see a woman on the gridiron, even if she was just a kicker.  The teacher set up a time for me to interview her after practice one afternoon.  While conducting the interview, this girl was a complete bitch, and actually made fun of me a few times.  The tone of my article completely changed.

I went to the sports editor, a kid named Robbie, and told him the teacher had approved my article; I left out the part about the teacher never seeing it.  The article I wrote was about how it is was fitting that our female player was a kicker, since kickers are barely football players anyway.  I also ripped her for missing two extra points in a game our school lost, 21-20.

When the article came out, the males complimented me, the girls thought I was a sexist, and a female kicker, wanted to attempt a field goal on my scrotum.  More importantly, the teacher ripped me and Robbie a new one.  He also gave me a zero, and I barely passed the class because of it.  The teacher also gave me random fluff pieces, and didn't allow me to write any more opinion pieces.  My writing passion was effectively neutered, by one sci-fi nerd who hated sports.  This same teacher, who was at at least 50, dressed up as Spider-Man all four years of my High School career.  The only balls this guy played with, were his own.

Partly because of this clown, I gave up writing, and decided to think about pursuing a different career.  I always dreamed of majoring in journalism at UCLA, instead I was a business major at Grossmont College, a JC that was four miles from my house.  My dream effectively died that day in 2001, and I took the safe way out.

This blog that I started back in August was just a way for me to express myself, and goof on people.  Slowly, I am starting to believe that I can make a living by writing.  I wish I had more of a backbone then, instead of letting some nerd tell me I had no talent.  Anyway, I believe that everything happens for a reason, and my path will be a little different that I had planned as a child.  Bottom line, do not let people dictate your life, do the things you want to do.  Don't let the opinions of idiots control your every move.  You will be much happier that way.









 

2 comments:

  1. I totally understand, man. It's frustrating when you try to do something, and get shit on at every turn. However it's also very easy to mistake constructive criticism with something malicious. I know full well how easy it is to get discouraged from criticism that I mistook for something else.

    Also as someone who likes to write, I also tend to have a blind spot when it comes to my writing. We tend to think something is perfect the way it is, while others may have a different perspective and can see otherwise.

    I wish you the best though man. Keep at it, and don't let anyone keep you from doing what you love.

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  2. Thanks, dude. It isn't so much that I felt my work was perfect, I was just never given a shot. Thanks for the kind words

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