How about some real talk for my very first post?
I was raised in a sports-filled writing household. My Dad was the Executive Sports Editor of my hometown newspaper. He got his start on the local radio station and transitioned to print shortly after, where he remained for decades. He won “Sportswriter of the Year” three times. His typewriter keys were always clacking in his den next to my bedroom. After he retired from the newspaper, he wrote a book about the history of our county. We definitely a sports-minded family. Dinner table conversation was about basketball, football, baseball, and wrestling. My oldest brother followed in Dad’s athletic footsteps and became a sportswriter for the state’s biggest newspaper. He won “Sportswriter of the Year” way more times than Dad, and he also won plenty of other awards and accolades. My next oldest brother focused on coaching, but he recently wrote a book about his basketball life. The brother closest in age to me is a very successful businessman who is a state golf champion.
And then there’s me.
All three of my brothers are gifted athletes – golf, basketball. I was on the high school tennis team for a short bit, only because it was less humiliating than trying to play basketball (which everyone wanted from me since I was almost six foot). But alas, I am a slow moving sort, who finds her stride with yoga, biking, and Zumba.
But let’s talk about the writing part. As I said, I grew up amongst writers. The only classes I got excellent grades in were those that had to do with English, writing or communications. I definitely got the family gift and majored in Journalism. My career has been working in advertising, marketing, public relations and publishing. I’ve been a writer my whole life.
I haven’t done a whole lot of writing outside of my career-life. Oh sure, I have filled 27 journals and had a tepid Blogspot in 2005 (RIP, Mom, Interrupted), and I even spent a couple years blogging about my single parent experiences for two sites (see those posts here). But something always held me back. After much introspection (and a little therapy), I realize I have such a fear of rejection that I’ve been too paralyzed to put myself out there.
For years, I’d say I was going to do some freelance writing. As soon as I could find the time. And then I’d start a huge home project to distract me. To be fair, I did end up being a single parent for the majority of my kids’ lives, all while working full-time plus, and maintaining a house and yard. But still. People have done, people do it every day.
Flash forward to last year. My youngest duckling left the next. I sold my house. I moved to a rental and got rid of my mini-van. I started writing a book about how to empty nest. I was on my way!
I did it again.
Allowed myself to get distracted. Threw myself into a romantic relationship. Read an absurd number of books. Binged many Netflix series. Cleaned and organized and sorted through every possession I owned. Distractions. However, in going through a basket of treasured letters, I found one that changed everything.
It was from my Dad. Let me pause for a moment and tell you that my Dad was my number one fan. I was the only girl and the youngest. He was hyper-protective of me, and now I get why – the world is rough. Dad passed away from Alzheimer’s disease in 2012, a few months before my oldest son graduated high school. I lost my biggest fan. (Note: my sweet mom is incredible and loving, always supportive of me as well, but there was something extra intense about my father-daughter relationship).
On to the letter. He wrote it a couple years before I married my sons’ dad. He was praising me for a special book I created for him while he was recovering from knee replacement surgery. It was full of private jokes and everything I could find that would entertain him. My mission worked, he was elated. And then he went on to write:
I really sincerely believe that you have the most writing talent of anyone in our family. Somehow you have to work into a position where your boundless and ample writing talents can be recognized. You should look into freelance writing.
Mic drop, as the kids say. I held that letter to my heart and sobbed. He saw my potential, and it was time for me to do the same. I keep his letter, in the original envelope postmarked April 6, 1989 on my desk. It is my inspiration, my muse.
I am finally ready to do this, and by using my writing talent, I’m honoring my father in the best way I know how.
Thanks, Dad. Let’s roll.