My brother teaches an Adult Education class on writing. After all, he is a published author. This semester, he asked me to be a “guest speaker” and talk about my journey as a blogger. He recommended I prepare to talk for about an hour and suggested I “make the case for why blogging matters and maybe your own reticence to embrace it and what changed.”
It sounds easy enough, almost like geometry class. The teacher says to plot some points and then connect them into a line. When I try to figure out the points to plot, though, things get skewed. Was it the denim-covered diary my Aunt Jo gave me when I was 8 years old? Was it the day I figured out the formula for writing an academic essay and knew I would never need to struggle with an “essay test” again? Maybe it was the day one of my college English teachers recommended me for a Peer Tutoring program; she thought I could teach others how to write academic essays.
It might have been the day in 1983 when Elvis Costello’s album “Punch the Clock” arrived at WMEB and we decided to put “Every Day I Write the Book” into heavy rotation.
It could have been the hundreds of letters I wrote to friends when I should have been blogging.
These story lines all intersect in the point called “practicing” my writing and you know what my saintly mother would say:
“Practice makes perfect!”
What about my chance meeting with former Patriot’s outside linebacker and tight end Mike Vrabel?
Sometimes, Big Corporations have meetings to inspire their employees. These types of meetings can be fun. If properly executed, they can be inspirational. In 2006, the Big Corporation I work for invited me to such a meeting. It was held at a fancy hotel in Boston and when we arrived, there was a song playing on a continuous loop in the background. It was the song “Unwritten” by Natasha Bedingfield. I didn’t know who she was then and I don’t now, but it’s a catchy tune. I remember hearing the words “today is where your book begins, the rest is still unwritten.”
We had a meal together and the leader of my business group talked about our success in the work we do; he’s an energizing and inspirational speaker. Then he introduced Mike Vrabel and Mike gave a talk.
I don’t remember a single thing he said.
After his talk, he walked around the room, shaking hands and posing for pictures.
It was an exciting day; meeting famous people is mesmerizing, especially when they’re towering Super Bowl champions. In my book, Mike Vrabel is as good-looking as Tom Brady. But looking back on that day, I’m not sure Mike inspired me to write anything except possibly a letter to one of my friends.
For six more years after that meeting, I remained “unwritten.”
Mike Vrabel is the defensive line coach for Ohio State now; he’s had his ups and downs since his days with the Patriots. He doesn’t have a blog and he may not be making keynote speeches at Big Corporations. I can’t say one way or another that he was one of the points on my blogging journey, but every time I hear the song “Unwritten” I think about that day. Blogging is a way to practice writing and I’m sure Mike Vrabel knows from experience that practice makes perfect.
It’s a silly story for a Friday, too; that’s just one reason why blogging matters.