My parents had a dinner party shortly after Ronald Regan was shot. All of 10 years old, I memorized a diagram of the scene published in Time Magazine and proceeded to relate the story to my parents’ guests in excruciating detail.
My fascination with true stories never waned, and I spent my time reading “In Cold Blood,” “Helter Skelter” and the essays of Tom Wolfe, a writer who makes punctuation more fascinating that any fairy tale.
When it came time for college, my career path was clear – journalism. Life, in all its messy glory, rendered beautiful with my talented prose. I would be Anna Quinlan, Bob Woodward and Nora Ephron, all rolled up into one urbane package.
The reality was much less exciting. I wound up at a small community weekly newspaper, reporting on the zoning board and the high school prom.
Boring, small-town news.
Of course there were pockets of darkness – murder, rape, and tragedy. I bore witness to them all, the mundane and the mercenary.
After five years, I left. A part of me died in that newsroom, waiting for the big story that would lead to my big break. It never came, and I gave up.
I just gave up.
I packed up my steno pads and my dreams, and left for an air-conditioned cube in a huge impersonal corporation, where I spent another five years trying to force myself to be the kind of person who wears suits and uses words like “deliverable” and “proactive.”
I left that place – and that person – behind when The Poo was born.
I’m never going to be a world-famous journalist. If I’m lucky, I’ll be a working writer who makes a few clams selling other people’s stories using my own words.
And it’s my own fault. I waited for something to happen to me. I was afraid to take the risk that I might try and fail. So instead I took the easy way out, and because of that my dream – which might have been a reality – withered and died, leaving me with nothing but the ink under my nails.
Someday, when she’s older, I’ll take The Poo into the basement and show her the dusty bins that hold the old newspapers littered with my byline. I’ll tell her that they were my beginning, and that I let them be my end.
I’ll tell her that sometimes it takes more than desire and talent to make your dreams come true.
I’ll tell her it takes courage.
[tags]newspaper, journalism, excitement, writing, journalist, teaching, daughter, courage[/tags]
Photo graciously provided by Kazze, through a Creative Commons license, some rights reserved