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Writing Is Hard

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BALTIMORE — First things first, one of my favorite parts about journalism, when I got into it, was datelines. Most readers probably don’t care about them, but to me their use — like the one here, BALTIMORE — marked a strong sense of place, of where the writer was and where he or she was gathering information. You know, real news. Whenever I use a dateline, it makes me feel like I’m doing something worthwhile. So, to anyone who’s reading, you will see datelines used in this blog from this date forward.

Secondly, why am I even writing this blog? Writing can be a lonely and hard existence, and all I think any good writer wants to do is be read. Sometimes that means you promote your own work. Because who else really will?

But, really, I’m writing this all for myself, and for the practice. To organize my thoughts each week, to help make sure I’m staying on track with what I want to accomplish. That’s right, I. It’s all about me! That capital letter that all journalism majors were discouraged from using, even in columns. Use sparingly, they said. Sure, but if using “I” makes writing easier, as it does when writing about yourself and your perspective on things, why not use it?

Because, and this gets me to the point I wanted to talk about tonight, writing is hard. It’s never come easy for me, yet I still can’t seem to find anything else I want to do. When I was a kid reading the sports section of the newspaper, all I wanted to do was write for it. I was lucky enough to, at Newsday, my first job out of college. From there, I told myself everything else in my career would be a bonus, which I need to remind myself of from time to time. Because doing this is hard.

Misery loves company, they say, and I find comfort in the fact that truly great American writers — like E.B. White and Red Smith — seem to have considered the activity of writing as difficult as I do. On the back cover of White’s legendary children’s classic, “Stuart Little,” White’s bio reads: “Mr. White finds writing difficult and bad for one’s health, but he keeps at it even so.” I feel that way almost every day.

I’ve started to read a collection of Red Smith sports columns, titled “American Pastimes.” Smith is one of the most revered sportswriters of all-time, at one point writing columns seven days a week, and he called his home office the Torture Chamber. Indeed, sometimes you question why you put yourself through all this trouble.

What I Read This Week

Warren Buffett’s annual letter to Berkshire Hathaway investors. No one can hate on standard earnings reporting procedures like the Oracle of Omaha. It’s also nice when someone so smart is also humble. “Charlie [Munger] and I have no idea as to how stocks will behave next week or next year. Predictions of that sort have never been a part of our activities,” Buffett wrote.

And on risk management: “Rational people don’t risk what they have and need for what they don’t have and don’t need.”

“Long Way Down,” by Jason Reynolds. A young adult novel told in verse, through the eyes of a city kid looking to avenge his brother’s murder. Most of the story is told during a fictional ride down an elevator. Very good.

What I’m Reading

The aforementioned “Very Best of Red Smith,” and Ted Geltner’s “Last King of the Sports Page,” on another legendary sportswriter, Jim Murray.

What I Wrote or Edited This Week

The Great Preakness Debate Enters the Political Homestretch, Baltimoremagazine.com. This combination rarely goes well together: sports, tradition, politics, and taxpayer money.

Still editing the TBA memoir.

What I Watched

A lot of “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” on demand, and the last few holes of the Honda Classic. Congrats Keith Mitchell on his first career win. Coincidentally, I picked up an indoor putting practice hole from a second-hand store today for $5.

I think that’s everything.