South City Confessions: Getting paid to do what you LOVE is the dream

My grandfather was a writer for a small newspaper in St. Louis.

Sitting at the northwest corner of Hampton and Pernod, Lawrence Bulus pumped out columns about fishing and wildlife. That was his thing. He didn’t make a lot of money doing it. But he did receive a paycheck for doing something he loved. Isn’t that the dream?

Jude Law’s demented crime scene photographer once stared down Tom Hanks’ gangster, killer to killer, asking him about getting paid to do something you love. Is it just me or do so many legendary movie scenes take place in a diner?  Training Day, I’m Your Woman, Baby Driver, Diner, Seven, When Harry Met Sally, Goodfellas, etc. I could go on, but let’s get back on topic.

My dream hasn’t always been to write. How can you really say that? There you were, many years ago, covered in birth goo, thinking about writing columns about baseball and the movies?? Stop it. At one point, I wanted to be an action hero like Arnold, and then a baseball player like Ray Lankford. The cop phase. Screenwriter avenue. Writing was always there at the end, unbeaten like fathertime.

English, literature, and journalism were always my favorite classes. History for the long-winded essays that tired and wired my professors and teachers. I don’t think they expected that from me, but it was relentless. I helped peers with their pieces, helping lay designs for their first paragraph before departing to the other side of the computer lab.

The truth is writing was my escape. Up until my early 30’s , I stuttered like crazy, didn’t care for physics classes, and found anything higher than college algebra to induce a brain freeze. You do what you must in order to collect nice grades, but what you actually hang onto over the decades is something entirely different. For me, it was putting words on the page.

Thank goodness for computers too, because my handwriting is atrocious. The fours look like nines, and I try blending cursive and regular print like some weirdo who can’t keep one of his fingers from flying away. So I type and type, until the keyboard bleeds first. I write at least an article per day, like a maniac carrying unlimited thoughts.

Writing a good piece is cathartic. Writing a bad piece just felt like shit. You knew it right after the send button was tapped. A language every writer knows is self-doubt, a punishing body shot specialist who never goes away. You can look over a piece eight times, and still find something that led you astray on the ninth read. Like Hank Moody once said, it’s homework for life.

You don’t want to be a writer. You are a writer. It’s a yes or no thing, especially if passion is involved. The hook goes in, the novel begins, and it never ends. Think of it this way. Somewhere out there, there’s a way to find every single thing that I have written, and pile it up into one book. A novel with no end, or well, until the real end.

That’s the way I’d like it. It started with articles about the Cardinals that I wrote for friends on the manual scoreboard at Busch Stadium 2.0. It continued with epic email blasts to a group of 60 about favorite movies, bad movies, the Cardinals, the Blues, music, coffee, food, and whatever else fell out of my brain from my hands.

The Dose began in July of 2011. I broke down the Colby Rasmus trade, and off I went. The first few years were rough, as I rode around the terrain without a full grasp of semicolons, colons, proper comma usage, and how to build flow to a story. You can’t write the way you talk. There’s just no way to contain it while presenting it in an understandable format. Prose takes work if eyes can see it forever. Reading over an old piece that didn’t land right is a three minute journalism school that one can’t buy.

As 2021 begins, I am not what you would call a free agent, but a man with options. The good kind. There are different roads in front of me, and the future looks bright either way I turn. Instead of doing jobs I don’t like and pounding away at the pavement by night on what I do like, why not lean into the good stuff? Monetize the website. Fire up the social media interaction. Demand what you’re worth people. Nobody else can fight that case in court better than you.

I’ll never stop writing. I can’t! Honest statement. Once it’s in your system, the ability to contain it just gets harder, especially if you resist. There have been days where the mind wonders about doing something else, but the urge doesn’t last.

So I write on. Making a few more shackles sure wouldn’t hurt.


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