(BOSTON/ATLANTA :: 22 March 2009) Writing’s rocky road would be a hell of a lot easier to traverse if I had a clock to punch, regular hours to keep and a clearly defined path to the golden years.
It’d be boring as all hell, but at least I could fall back on the structure of it all.
But that’s not what I’m up to. At least not in this lifetime. As I’ve told many of my readers/friends/family members/stalking victims in the past - and to borrow a baseball metaphor - I’ve been slapping sharp singles to the outfield, with a few gappers, when what I really want is to blast a home run. Not just one that clears the fence, mind you... the type of bellowing bomb that shatters the windshield of the champagne-colored Town & Country in the baseball park’s parking lot. (Soccer mom, sorry... you deserve it for driving that bulbous mobile living room.)
This forthcoming homer, the first of many solid ideas, is my book on emotional intelligence for men, and it’s more than just to prove to myself that, Yes I can... it’s about the impact I know I can have, and to make the “cliched difference” in people’s lives that, let’s face it, won’t be a cliche if it actually sticks to the wall. When I download my idea from the ether and morph it into turnable pages, digestible prose and impeccably sourced, supported theory (the latter, hi, is for sure the slippery eel in an otherwise viewable zoo), I’ll be able to look back on my 9-to-5 days and chuckle. “When,” not “if.” When.
So on I trudge. I recently had the pleasure of meeting and listening to Dennis Palumbo, psychotherapist to Hollywood’s writing royalty (as well as “paupers,” I guess you could say, staying with the metaphor) as their impassioned cheerleader; he’s a comfy suede recliner in a sea of Ikea chairs. He has the gusto, insight and inspiration that we writers, often impatiently, seek within ourselves, and which he delivers with an accessible, impish demeanor that perfectly embodies our erstwhile pursuit.
I shook his hand after his session at the Nieman Conference on Narrative Journalism, an event I have promised to myself I’ll attend every year. I’ve also had the pleasure of starting his book, “Writing from the Inside Out,” which might as well be titled, “Living from the Inside Out,” as we writers are always sharing some glimpse of ourselves in the words we craft. Even the most mundane local news story contains a thread of who we are, or more accurately, how our identity shapes our stories.
I write the latter thought knowing the pitfalls (more like rancid catcalls) of bias in journalism; that all media has a left-leaning perspective... yadda yadda. But we tell our best stories when entrusted with the duty, the call, that our own experiences are to merely propel the truth upward rather than somehow manufacture a truth we seek to propel. Conflating liberalism with fairness and sound judgment is an Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole. Don’t go there.
So... back to the ballgame. I’m digging in at the plate, doing my practice swings... winking to Brandon in the stands, wiggling like Chuck Knoblach with one foot out of the batter’s box, staring down the opposition like Don Mattingly, waiting for the closer to bring the heat. It’s a balmy afternoon. The sun is beating down on the brim of my cap, illuminating a preview in my heart and mind of the next morning’s sports report highlighting the results:
“Veteran player does the purposeful home-run trot around the bases after the big swing goes yard.”