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This Writer Rights His Own Course

By Todd Civin

In the '90's, I started a feel-good magazine called Country Essence. I was fed up with the rapes and robberies and murders we are all subjected to on a daily basis fueled not only by the medias need to gain viewership but also by our own sadistic need to know.

We drive by car accidents and rubber-neck in hopes of seeing a mutilated body. We watch the show Cops in hopes of seeing someone who is more messed up than anyone we've ever seen. We are glued to the CBS Nightly News in hopes of feeling just a little worse about our lot in life than we already do. In short, we become part of the problem and not part of the solution.

As a writer, I have a choice.

I can choose to write a juicy story about Manny being Manny, or A-Rod shooting himself up, or Plaxico shooting himself down. My goal, I guess, is not to truly fix the broken world but, to score reads and comments.

As you all know, we write strictly for the love of writing or perhaps to be discovered. We write to climb up the rankings and to hopefully see our story or better than that our own picture perched atop the Writer's Leader Board. Been there. Done that. It's cool but it's not why I choose to write.

Like Country Essence, this blog can be our own personal platform for (yes, that word you're all sick of) CHANGE.

I've now written 35 stories. I've written a half dozen or so that make me feel good and 29 that make me part of the problem. My victories were stories written about my son, my love of the sport of baseball, my loss of my job, my family, and the mentoring I received from a friend who has since passed on. I've written about the personal achievement of the Italian National Baseball Team and the friendships that the teammates have forged. They made me feel good and I sense the readers have left feeling the same.

So, effective now, I have made a choice. I've made a choice to dare to be different. I can march to the beat of a different drummer instead of cruising down the path of negativity. Walk the high road instead of crawling along the road of slander, drivel, and libel.

This idea actually entered my thoughts after I wrote, "A-Rod Isn't My Hero, My Son is My Hero." My fear was that I'd become predictable. I'd become a cream puff writer. People would start to say, "Oh, more of the same." If I am truly as strong a writer as I profess to be, I'll bet I can remain interesting. It's so funny how we are so concerned about being repetitively good, instead of caring that we are repetitively bad. Messed up, huh?

A man was walking along a beach. The tide was high. He saw another man, ankle deep in starfish. As each wave would come in, more and more starfish would be beached on the shore.
One by one the man would reach down into the cold surf and pick up a star fish. A starfish that was doomed to die. He'd throw them into the surf, only to see the majority of them float back into shore. Occasionally, he would witness one make it over the top of the next approaching wave.
The first man said to the second. "What are you doing? Can't you see that your effort doesn't make a difference?"

The second man bent down and picked up another starfish. He threw it into the ocean. He looked at the other man and said, "Made a difference to that one, didn't it?"

I've chosen to be that man.

Photo taken by Chris Metcalf of Huntington University. Courtesy of Flixr
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