Why I Write?

To be perfectly honest, I am not exactly sure why I write. Writing can be very simple. It can be very cut and dry. Either you’re a good, mediocre, or bad writer. I would classify myself as mediocre, but it I think it depends on what you write about. I know a lot about television, so I can write about television pretty well. I do not know a lot about writing (despite many writing classes), so writing about how to write is not my strong suit. Having said that, I can recognize bad writing when I see it and I am in putty in the hands of a good writer. I used to have a professor in college who would say, “Gotta know the territory.” He would beat this into us. I not only remember it, but also live by it. Writing can be an exercise in learning about something, which is how I do it. When I am working on my show or writing a story for the news, I learn about the topic as I go along. The problem I often fall into is, I just don’t care.

When I was in high school, I would often romanticize the life of a writer. What was I thinking? Just before graduating high school, I was taking a creative writing course, and it wasn’t until half way through the course I discovered my “muse.” I thought I had fallen madly in love with a girl I had been friends with. She had recently broken up with her boyfriend, and I woke up one morning convinced we were meant to be, we weren’t. After writing pages upon pages of what I can only think was crazy ramblings of a hormonal teenager, she very politely thanked me and moved on. Could it have been the bad writing? After all, today she is an English professor.

You would have thought that by this point in my teenage life I would have learned not to write down my feelings about a girl that I liked. In the seventh grade, I wrote a girl a note that I liked her. Yes, this was my big plan, and as you might expect it backfired. This was not the smartest way to start junior high.

Once in college, I fell in love with a girl who loved correcting my writing. A natural talent, my college sweetheart had the ability of writing better than our journalism professors. We had one professor who, at the end of certain classes, would take the best student’s work and his work down to our college’s newsroom. He would then ask them to compare the two stories and pick the best one; she always won, which drove him crazy. She became a news producer, then a librarian. Years later, she still reads everything I write and still corrects even my simplest mistakes. Now that I am in grad school, I don’t show her everything; instead I save her expertise for when I really need it. I wouldn’t dream of airing a story without her looking over my script first.

In my job, I am starting to shift from producing everyday to reporting now and again. I have a hard time finding stories. I like to find something that I can get excited about. I like the quirky or fringe stories. I don’t just want the standard stuff, I want to be entertained and in turn entertain someone else. I leave the hard journalism to the people who want it. I wouldn’t say I am a fluff guy, but I do like a good feature story. Still, it comes down to “what have I got to say?” The answer is I don’t always know. I wait to be inspired, and when I do look out. The bottom line is you must write with a purpose. You can’t write for the sake of writing, you have to have something to say.