I’m trying to keep this site a little more balanced. There’s a real danger of my jumping atop my soapbox, enjoying the lofty view, and never coming down.
I love commentary. Probably mostly because I’m somewhat cocky and assured that my oh-so-insightful take on life is worth saying at least once, and sometimes twice. Of course, I realize that’s just my inner-pompous ass talking, but I do dig commentary and would love nothing more than for my take on things to mean something.
To be a good op-ed (opinion/editorial) writer, one really must know both sides of the issues, and then pick one. You can’t be namby-pamby on where you stand. That said, conviction is something I’ve never been short on. Neither is moral righteousness.
I’ve got a pretty good handle on all my shortcomings: I’m loud, brash, opinionated, blunt. But what makes me a pain in the ass in the office also makes me a more promising op-ed writer.
I’m on the verge of digging into all my old paperwork and finding all the writing I did in the mid-’90s. I once wrote and edited for the college paper, which I loved, and I sort of went and dismissed it all, not because it was bad, but because it was “then.”
“Then” I was different. That was before I lost my mom. Before I nearly lost my life -- twice. Before I finally figured out who the hell I was. Before a lot of things.
I don’t remember when this was, earlier this year, I suppose, but I did stumble across one article I’d written back then. I read it and was surprised. It really struck me as good. I think that was a problematic discovery, though.
It’s problematic to remember that you once had a way with words when you’re coming off a five-year patch of writer’s block. For anyone who doesn’t believe in writer’s block, well... It can only truly be explained as simply failing to understand yourself anymore. That’s all it really is. Eventually, you need to find your way back inside. They just don’t sell those kinds of compasses, though.
I know the cliche is that the troubled artist is usually the best artist, but I’m at my worst when I’m going through things, and I’ve been “going through things” for the better part of seven years now.
But despite being in an accident that very well should have cost me my life this past August, I’m now having more fun than I’ve had in a decade. Nothing like nearly moving into a pine box to give you a little clarity on what’s worth your grief and what ain’t.
Since then, I’m finally returning to who I once was. My personality’s coming back, along with my edginess.
Not too coincidentally, writing is also coming back to me. Slowly. I’m not there yet, and it could take a while to develop the sort of balance between insight and humour that I’m after, but, and I do not say this lightly, I’m optimistic.
Of course, optimism isn’t necessarily a plus when you’re an op-ed writer. Your job is to find the faults in the system, in people, in the world. It’s a very hard life because it’s not often about celebrating man’s accomplishments, but about analyzing his missteps.
The alcoholic journalist is a cliche because it’s true. It’s not a career one should pursue unless they have a strong sense of who they are, and a real passion for life.
For the first time in a long time, I have both of those qualifications. Seems it's time to get back in the game.