It’s the existential question.
Why am I here?
I know why I’m here, in this physical location. But why am I here, on this road to nowhere? Journalism.
Why have I hopped on the Hindenburg? Why am I reaching for a pipe, a fixture, a light, anything as the vertical Titanic is taking a nosedive into the icy Atlantic? Why am I in a relationship that has all the signs of future abuse?
I’ve come up with just one answer: I love to write.
I love to find new angles. I love to report. I love to break news. I love to folo up. I love to beat deadline. I love to talk with good, honest people. I love to talk with evil, lying people. I love to chronicle the high points in someone’s life. I love to type in the minute details. I love to pay attention and read between the lines. I love to connect with people. I love to hear the rapid tapping sound of my fingers tickling the ivory keyboard of my MacBook. I love to ask, “Anything else?” I love to watch sports without talking. I love to engage in hour long conversations with fascinating and boring people, only to find that what I really wanted was on their dresser or hidden within the last thing they said. I love to read proper grammar. I damn sure love to write proper grammar. I love photographers, copy editors, editors, writers, interns – all of ’em. I love how this job is never tedious. I love to look down upon TV reporters. I love to ask questions. I love reading Jim Murray, Joe Posnanski, Pat Jordan, the old Rick Reilly and occasionally Bill Plaschke. I love new notebooks, new clicky pens, new recorders and new AAA batteries. I love filing stories from a Panera Bread I’ve never patronized in a town I’d never visit normally. I love media passes. I love writing shorthand. I love pausing, looking into a person’s eyes and getting a true read on them. I love the “Word Count” function of Microsoft Word. I love using adverbs and the word “whom.” I love constantly learning, constantly listening and constantly dreaming. I love seeing my name in print, whether it’s my first or thousandth byline. I love the smell and the rhythmic hum of a printing press. I love timely paychecks. I love looking good at a big game. I love looking at other reporters when I have a scoop or a fresh angle that they don’t. I love smiling when that happens. I love short sentences, funny names and run-heavy football games. I love sitting in the press box, watching everything unfold. I love talking to the old-timers. I love talking to the kids. I love to keep people reading.
I just love to write.
Now for the bad part.
I hate thinking about the future. I hate — HATE — press conferences. I hate a good portion of media relations people. I hate the fact that good journalists, copy editors, photographers and editors are getting laid off like crazy. I hate freelancing. I hate blogging, ironically. I hate the fact that journalism as an industry just got Bo Jackson-ed by new media. I hate sports parents. I hate the fact that I might have to find another career. I hate the fact that no one slapped me into studying something else when I was in high school. I hate coaches who don’t call back. I hate athletes who make more money in one year than I’ll see in a lifetime because they can throw a ball around or jump really high. I hate athletes who don’t realize that they won the genetic lottery, taking for granted the lump sum that has been handed to them. I hate pass-heavy high school football games. I hate not knowing where I’ll be in five, ten or twenty years. I hate that AP style dictates that I capitalize “Internet” and make “Web site” into two words. I hate late paychecks. I hate coaches who love to jerk around journalists just because they can. I hate that no matter how much I diversify this skill I have, it feels like it won’t matter. I hate press boxes without Internet. I hate wondering what’s going to happen when I get married, when I have kids. I hate the fact that I probably won’t be able to support them on a journalist’s salary.
I hate that I love writing so goddamned much.