For as long as I can remember, I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Oh, for sure, I occasionally thought about being a fireman, or an FBI agent, or even a mailman like my dad was. A long deceased aunt told me that plumbers make a lot of money. All are worthy professionals who help people. But the writing bug hit me when I began writing letters to the editor of my hometown newspapers when I was in high school on subjects that were on the nightly news or in the morning newspaper.
Seeing them published just increased my yearning to be a writer. There was just no doubt in my mind that I wanted to become a journalist, working for the New York Times (as some of my friends do today) getting “scoops” and seeing my name (called a by-line) under the headline of the story I had written. Winning a Pulitzer Prize. Becoming famous. Being on top of the world.
Then I saw a movie called “All the President’s Men” starring Roberta Redford and Dustin Hoffman, about the burglary of the Watergate Hotel, which ended with the impeachment of President Nixon. And that cemented it in my brain. That’s what I wanted to do. And for a few years after high school, that’s what I did. I pestered the editor of a local newspaper for so long that he hired me as a reporter covering southeastern Connecticut, although to this day I think he hired me just to get me off his back. We came close to winning a Pulitzer Prize. But I also felt like there was something missing. Working for a local newspaper, especially in the early few years, also meant covering meetings of the local sewer authority or a town budget committee, and I grew tired of doing that real quick.
Plus, I’ve always had an itch to move around (it happens to me a lot plus I wanted to get away from home at the time). So one day I showed up in Washington D.C. and began working for a congressman from a state I had never been to. Heck, I had never even flown over his state before. But I soon learned there was more to writing than helping a congressman get re-elected every two years.
I knew I wanted to write. I just didn’t know what I wanted to write. I was starting to have self doubts about what I wanted to do. Then I discovered speechwriting, of all things. Now this was a whole different kind of animal.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Forty years ago, I might have been able to do what I wanted to do by word of mouth, advertising my ambition to family, friends, acquaintances, and past and present colleagues. Then came the Internet in all its glory, not to mention the social media craze, and all of a sudden a lot of people like me wanted to get in on the action.