I’d guess since that first piece back on Tumblr in 2010, I’ve written about 900 or so articles, maybe more. But I notice that next post number up for me was a nice round, #400, I wanted to take a chance to look back, because I so rarely do (or am sentimental enough to bother with it).
I started writing because I never really stopped.
For as long as I can remember, I have found ways to maximize my experiences with sports. From creating franchise modes on Madden was will back on Sega and didn’t even know how to yet themselves, all the way up to ranking the best ballplayers on my block growing up (an exercise that started a healthy amount of fights back in the summer on of ’97), I have always had the urge to expand on my love of sport.
But I really got into it when I simply was not into anything else. I didn’t go to Journalism School in college because I wanted to keep my enjoyment of sports “pure”. I was a lead sports writer for my High School newspaper, and did well with it my junior and senior years, but I never looked at it as the future. I was against taking my first love and hobby, and tarnish it by making it my work. Consequently, I never found anything else that impacted me in the slightest. I enjoyed college, took plenty of courses that interested me, but none that ever moved me in the way that a passion would. Not so ironically, I hadn’t a clue as to what I truly wanted to do when college ended. Get a “job” I supposed. So, after I got said “job”, it should be no surprise that I quickly returned back to my passion, initially in my free time, but then also in-between (and probably during) my work as well. Just to distract myself from the monotony of what the morbidly repetitive job that was based on “squeezing blood from a turnip”.
I started this up because I was tired of doing everything else. I’d started online writing in 2009 casually. Despite not being a part of the J-School at Mizzou, I’d taken a writing intensive course schedule in route to my Sociology degree and because it was far easier for me to take a page to explain my answer than filling in a bubble on Scantron. I had a conversation with a friend in the middle of one of the now millions of offhand conversations I’ve had about some sports topic, and in the practiced way that only one of your closest friends can do he said, on no uncertain terms, that I was “really wasting myself by not taking sports more seriously”. The writing I’d done to that point was just an offshoot on ideas about whatever I’d been thinking about at the time. Another friend of mine, who is now a screenwriter and producer, told me that I needed to go after what I’m passionate about, because writing with a goal that you have an expertise in will come off much better.
I had to back up and think about what that meant, and what it didn’t. It basically was a push to follow my passion, which I wasn’t so sure that I even had at the time. So I brought together the writing and years of sports that I had at the time since then, and decided to start up a blog. My first blog was a simple one on Blogger, and I just published my notes on the 2010 NFL Draft. It went well enough, the few people that read it liked it, and then I followed up with some MLB All-Star Game picks, which got even better reviews.
I started Cheap.Seats.Please and wrote my first post here on May 10 of 2010, on the plight of JaMarcus Russell. And for the next year or so, I poured my efforts into this. I quit bleeding out of turnips business on May 30 and became a “blogger”. And for the next year, that’s what I did. I wrote and researched daily everything I could to make up for the time I did not spend learning in college and how to get exposure. Along the way, I began to meet actual writers along the way, how to get into the door with editors and how to use social media as a free and regular advertisement. I have combined these factors, and continued to work at them ceaselessly.
Now, just a bit after three years into it, I’ve continued to be encouraged by the progress that has been created. Midway through 2011, I was offered a regional site to write St. Louis sports news, which made me learn more about beat writing over commentary. Shortly after that, I was extended an opportunity to write as a contributor on a national online magazine, which gave me my first experience for writing for an editor in nearly 10 years. Then a longtime goal of contributing to my fraternity’s quarterly publication found me when a mentor of mine returned to the magazine as editor. Shortly thereafter, I was bumped up to lead writer and editor for the sports section of magazine, an experience which first introduced me to interviewing and transcribing conversations, as well as story profiling.
I took the long way to learning the craft, but while the majority of my work is still directly online, I have crossed the bridge for blogger to writer, and now it is all about continuing to take it to new levels. In the last year, I’ve found some amazing platforms to continue to be challenged and showcase my work. The Sports Fan Journal has been a great experience, with an amazing staff of similar types of writers to me. I70 Baseball is a great chance to analyze what I know best: the St. Louis Cardinals and the baseball culture within the city.
The best thing I’ve learned to do is to take advice as well as inspiration. If you can keep both of those, and have your own solid levels of knowledge via work ethic, humility and patience, anything can be done. Along the way, many people have provided these elements, from numerous family and friends, to the guidance of Jonathan Hicks, Maurice Drummond, Michael Tillery, Chris Broussard, Kali Wilder, Jamilah Lemieux, Derrick Goold, and Bryan Burwell. To the peer pushes form Eddie Maisonet, Kenny Masenda, Mark Trible, Justin Tinsley, Dillon Friday, Joe Vozelli, Tara Wellman and Joe Boland. To the exposure opportunities from Daniel Shoptaw, Bill Ivie, Lindsay Weber, Jason Clinkscales, EJ Christian, Jason Lamontogue and Dan Danese. I’ve had a lot of help getting here, and I’m only in the starting blocks still.
I look back at as an offshoot of what do now time to time, to remind me to not take myself so serious, because at the end of it, I really love what I’m starting to do. I’m far from rich, but man do I enjoy what I do. I’ve been humbled before by being asked for advice on writing, blogging and how to pursue it. I’ll never say any more than what I know, and that’s to engulf yourself in what you love for and the results will show.
Whether I end up at the top of some great publication I can’t even estimate now, on radio network doing what I have done here 400 times now over the air, become an author or professor, or if I simply just do this for years on top of years, I’d guess I’ll never stop, because what’s life without passion? After a little while of denying mine, I’ve finally set out after it, and I wouldn’t have life any other way.
For the regular course of biz, ball and life, follow me on Twitter @CheapSeatFan