My new friend Tom e-mailed me the link to a newspaper column the other day, thinking I would enjoy it.
I did not.
The column was by a sportswriter for the Seattle Times, a very good writer named Jerry Brewer, who wrote about going back to his hometown to be inducted into his high school’s hall of fame. But really, it was not about that so much as it was about the writer counting his blessings for being paid for doing what he loves to do – write about sports.
That was the part where I became morbidly depressed. I mean, do I need to be reminded about people who not only are still employed, but really, really happy about it?
Then the other night, I was minding my own business, laying in bed and waiting for another Sex and the City to begin, when I caught part of the show, My Boys. For those of you who have never watched this show on TBS, it is about a woman sportswriter who covers the Cubs for the Chicago Sun-Times.
It’s not a bad show. I actually really like it, primarily because like most successful shows, it bears little to no resemblance to real life. For instance, the main character, PJ, is dating her competition at the Tribune. This part could maybe happen. And both PJ and Bobby are gorgeous, which I guess, could also possibly happen but if it did, both would surely be searching for bigger game than another baseball beat writer.
Also, PJ and Bobby never work. Instead, from what I can tell, they drink and play poker and get to see all their friends on a nightly basis without ever having the office call and bother them, or missing a flight or even taking a flight.
The other night, they were covering spring training – again with all of their friends. This is the part where I came in and once again became instantly depressed because even a fictional character was gainfully and happily employed as a sportswriter – and why wouldn’t you be with a job where you never have to work, have a gorgeous boyfriend and all your friends with you on every assignment? — and I’m not.
But then last night came around, I played softball, I wrote about playing softball and I was ecstatic. If you read the blog, you will know my mood had little to do with the game. Rather, it had everything to do with writing about it, liking what I wrote and genuinely enjoying the process.
Sometimes, I admit, I wonder what I am doing. I mean, I sit here and write my little column every day like a kid playing office in the basement — “Yes, Mom, I mean Editor Jones, here’s my deadline column.”
I realize there are many, many – MANY – other bloggers out there doing virtually the same thing – writing every day without being paid. Because I was paid to do it for the last 26 years, forgive me for being slightly conflicted.
But here’s the thing. I used to talk to my friend and former colleague Skip Myslenski about the “writer’s high” you get after finishing a story and feeling good about it. Some of that might have had to do with the cocktails afterward. But there was no mistaking it and I am happy to report the endorphins are still there, paycheck or not.
Writing is still a joy. It is my crutch. It is my passion. If you asked me five weeks ago why I loved my job, I probably would’ve said something about the people I was able to meet and the variety of the work. Jerry Brewer wrote about championing the little guy, about re-connecting with his childhood, about traveling to cool places and covering major events. He mentioned connecting with readers and always wanting to be a sportswriter.
For me that stuff has largely disappeared over the last several weeks. But I have found my voice again and I have, in the absence of editors and real deadlines and a guaranteed audience, been reminded why I did what I did in the first place. And turns out it had nothing to do with covering Super Bowls.
I love the power of the written word. I love to use it to tell a good story, and I’ll tell it from my basement to three people if I have to. Some day, I may be sitting with my computer on my lap and a tin cup in front of me. But I’ll still be doing what I love.
And for that, yep, I’ll be counting my blessings.