I loved the work. The research, the calls, the interviews, and then the creative process. Whether it was magazine-length stuff, or the short pieces for which USA TODAY was known, each required a certain focus and a love of words and phrase-making. Short pieces valued the snappy beginning and a quick assembly of pertinent facts. Long-form pieces, such as those I did for the last two Super Bowl programs, tend to wind around and in and out of themselves and if you do the job right (and I think I did), they come back to their starting place.
See some of the work I've done over the years.
I’ve written about many people over many years. Some are gone now, and I miss them. I don’t think I ever had a more emotional day on the job than when I wrote Gene Upshaw’s obituary for USA TODAY in 2008. I knew the man for more than 20 years, respected him, liked him. I had seen him play for the Oakland Raiders but knew him best as the executive director of the NFL Players Association. His death was reported early on an August morning and a phone call from my editor got me out of bed around 6 a.m. to begin a long and painful day trying to write objectively without eulogizing. Here’s a link, since I know (hint, hint) that I’ve whetted your curiosity.
I always loved writing. As a kid, in high school, in college, as a professional. I still do. I love reading as well.
Value the word. Trust the word. Learn to use lots of them properly.
Some years ago at the Super Bowl, one of my colleagues was being pressured by his office to produce a number of stories in rat-a-tat fashion. Bang them out. Go, go, go. His response: “It’s writing, not typing.”
When you sit at your keyboard and send an email, a note, a letter, remember that little lesson: It’s writing, not typing.