iWriter

“Life is short, and full of ironies.”

J.D. Fili, an English teacher at St. John Vianney High School in Holmdel, NJ, wrote that in my yearbook when I graduated in 1974. I’m not sure why he inscribed that to me, but I know this: he inspired me to be a writer. His encouraging comments scrawled in the margins of papers I turned in, made me think I had potential literary talent. He even read one of my essays out loud to a class, which led to an unexpected encounter.

Between class changes, a wholesome beauty named Vanessa Carlson approached me. She was smart and funny, and like a lot of guys, I had a secret crush on her. She was also dating a star jock who was quick to punch out rivals, so there was never any serious consideration about making a move on Vanessa. Yet she walked up to me and said, “I really liked what you wrote.”

And that’s when it hit me. Writing could be a way to impress girls! I suppose when you get down to it, that’s probably the number one motivation for most male writers. We want attention, respect, admiration… we want to be loved for our minds, and what we think or create. It’s all part of the seduction.

When I became a reporter for the college newspaper, once my byline hit the front page, I discovered a new persona within me. In the age of Watergate and “All the President’s Men,” journalists were heroes. There were also gonzo reporters like Hunter S. Thompson typing wild first person screeds for the Rolling Stone. You could be a hero and a rebel at the same time — unpredictable, even dangerous. Which a lot of the ladies liked.

I guess my point is I know why I write. I know why I write. It’s to make that one-to-one connection, to seduce strangers with words and stories. Metaphorically, it’s about getting The Girl, and all that is implied with winning her affections. Because it’s those guys we envision as being rich and famous. I want to be somebody — not just another faceless, nameless soul who toils in anonymity. Isn’t that what most of us want?

What got me to thinking about all this was hearing that Steve Jobs passed away. A million people will tap out Tweets and blog posts about how he changed the world, or how he taught us to think differently. For writers though, it’s even more personal I think. At least for me it is. I’m sitting in front of a 27-inch screen iMac, telling you about stuff that I wrote either in longhand on paper or using a manual typewriter when I was the ace reporter for my college rag. I remember seeing one of the first personal computers on display in the Student Center and asking the sales rep how much it cost. He said it was about $500 and I rolled my eyes — tuition for an entire year of state college in the late 70s was $500! You could buy a decent car for that amount back then.

So I was perfectly content to write on yellow legal pads and bang out final drafts on my trusty manual typewriter. If we needed to change copy before it went to the typesetter, we did cut and paste editing jobs with scissors and tape. Even when PCs began to infiltrate the work place in the early 80s, I was still in no rush to join the computer revolution. Until my wife brought home an early Apple model from her office. It intimidated me at first. But there was just something so… I dunno, likeable and friendly about that Mac. Steve Jobs seduced me with his creation.

I’m not ashamed to say I loved my first Bondi Blue iMac, then the lamp model and now my big screen baby. Although I would have continued writing regardless of whether Steve Jobs or Apple ever existed, I’m not so sure I’d be the person I am today. A writer without an audience is like a monk living in silence. The very first iMac made it so simple to connect to the internet that anyone could become part of a worldwide community, by very narrow or very broad interests. It didn’t matter to me whether I had one reply to a message board post or a hundred blog readers. My words were out there. Not just my words though — scripts that I’ve sent to producers, managers and agents I met online through message boards or email queries… my blog for the Honolulu Star-Advertiser is read by hundreds of people each week… and now, videos I produce for my local Career Changers TV show (using Final Cut Pro, which was developed for Macs) are online too.

And it’s just me, the guy who wanted to impress girls like Vanessa Carlson by writing something worth thinking about. My desire to sell a script or write a book was just a larger scale version of that goal with bigger stakes, bigger rewards attached. But the death of Steve Jobs reminded me that no matter how much success we achieve, all the money and fame in the world will not buy you more time on this earth. He was just 56, one year older than me.

So if you really, really want something, don’t put it off.  Put it out there for others to see, and don’t worry about it not being good enough. It’s the doing that matters.

*******

This was going to be a post about my personal connection to Eddie Murphy and a possible movie project I got a call about, quite unexpectedly yesterday from Eddie’s personal assistant, who I happen to know… which was odd, because I had not heard from the assistant friend in a long time. But this is the power of words: the friend from Hawaii still remembers me from TV/movie pitches I wrote 11 years ago. And now he gets to hang out with people like Brian Grazer and Brett Ratner at Eddie’s mansion. Anyhow, it’s a crazy story I’ll share later!

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