To Be A Writer.

iStock_000006957745XSmall[1]I write a blog. You know that if you are reading this. I suppose that makes me a writer, but hardly an accomplished one. Nonetheless I enjoy doing it because it gives me an opportunity to write about things I care about—primarily marketing, business and the New York Yankees. I am aware that I am hardly a talented writer, but I aspire to be one, even with the full knowledge that I will never get there.

I ran advertising agencies for many years in my former life before creating the Strum Consulting Group in 1999. I worked with many writers at several agencies. I personally liked and admired liked most of them. But I have a far greater appreciation for their work now than I did back then.

I saw a real writer last week, Jane Leavy. Jane is the author of a recent book called, The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America’s Childhood. Among other books she has also written is Sandy Koufax, a Lefty’s Legacy. I was inspired by hearing her comments at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute event in suburban Philadelphia. She spent many years at the Washington Post as a sportswriter in an era when being a newspaper writer was a great profession, and being a female sportswriter was not common. I enjoyed hearing her stories about meeting The Mick in 1983 and the extensive research she had done in writing the book.

Never in a million years when I was a child did I ever think that I would go see an author speak, pay to do so, and enjoy it!

When I was young, books and authors were things I kept away from like the plague. Here are 2 confessions from my youth.

Confession #1

Whenever we had to write book report in school, unless coerced otherwise, I selected books that were:

1. Short

2. Began on page 30 or later

3. Had big type

4. Had lots of photos

5. Were about sports, preferably Yankee autobiographies, or Greek mythology.

That kind of focused “selectivity”, kept the list of books that I’ve read to a small number.  

Confession #2

Here’s an even more damning confession. I went through 4 years of college (Rutgers College, New Brunswick) without writing a paper. Honest. I was a business administration major and I selected only courses where a paper was not a requirement. I was not illiterate. However, I was “typing challenged” as I had broken some fingers playing football in high school during the semester they taught typing, and as a result I had no typing skills. Obviously writing a paper required typing, so I avoided doing so. However, I needed to write papers in order to get my MBA at NYU. Couldn’t figure a way to get around that, though I would have if I could. Belated thanks to Pearlie, my mother, for helping me by typing my papers and master’s thesis.

Fast forward to today and I’ve surprised myself that I enjoy writing. I wish I hadn’t avoided it early on. I realize my overall style is a bit too conversational and I take great liberties in grammar. But as I approach my 100th Struming, a venture I didn’t think would last past #10, I (humbly) realize I may have some important things to say, or minimally, things I would like to say, whether they are important or not.  

Hearing Jane Leavy speak and thinking about the research done in preparation for her Mantle book (I guess I still read sports autobiographies), I came away with a far deeper understanding and appreciation of what it takes to be a great writer. Hard work, research and practice. Writing is like hitting a curveball–you need lots of time in the batting cage and against live pitching.

I realize it’s a craft that I won’t master in this lifetime. I haven’t had enough time in the “writing batting cage”. I’m OK with that. But I’ll keep writing anyhow. I sincerely appreciate any and all Strumings readers. Having an “audience”, however small, makes the effort worthwhile.

Thank you.

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