Got a real nice phone call earlier tonight. Been thinking about it on and off ever since.
It was my old journalism professor, and my first journalism boss, and the harshest but best editor I’ve ever had. He’s been reading my book. He’s been really busy this summer. As it goes with most newspapers these days, it’s been something of an ordeal, keeping the ship afloat and moving forward these past couple of years. This past summer has been a rough one for him.
He meant to have the book read and edited for me by like, June, but as life goes sometimes, it got put on the backburner. I understood, but was pretty bummed. When I was a freshman, taking my first journalism class, I wrote what I thought was perhaps the greatest bit of writing to ever grace mankind’s existence. We’ve all written that, haven’t we, writers? Usually, it comes when we’re young and blissfully, though obnoxiously, confident in how good we are.
Then we have someone like The Good Professor, who hands us back our papers, papers that look they must have given him a fit of papercuts, for they have been bled all over.
Ever since then, I’ve valued his opinion above all others when it comes to my journalistic work. Of course, I work with my editors, and I do what they think is best because they are the ones paying me for my work. But I suppose it’s a mental thing, a sentimental thing, with The Good Prof. He gave me my first major challenge, struck the first big blow to my massive writer’s ego. Because of him, I’m a much humbler writer than I was a few years ago. I’m constantly trying to make him proud.
He finally found time to read my book. That alone meant the world.
Then he called, and all I mentioned above is why this call meant so much.
“Scoop!” he said, exuberant as he always is. “Finished your book today!”
“Yeah?” I replied, hesitant, hopeful. I’d received 200 pages of the manuscript back from him to date, and they were sufficiently bled upon.
“Fantastic job,” The Good Prof said. “Truly fantastic work. You’ve done yourself proud. You’ve done journalism proud. You’ve done Ant proud. You’ve done Barton proud.” He didn’t specifically say it, because he’s the humble type who, really no matter what, always abstains from talking about himself, but he said enough for it to filter though: I’d done him proud, too.
We gabbed for a moment or two longer, then we had to go. Dinner was cooking in my kitchen, and he had his own things to tend to. He’s finished the book now, though, and so I finally feel like I have, too. Or at least, I will, once I get his revisions — he always calls them “suggestions,” but I know better than to argue — and work them in.
But that call, it’s a moment I’ll never forget. I’m sure that there will still be typos and errors and awkward sentences that somehow mysteriously find their way into the finished product, and I will curse them and rue the day I chose to be a writer. Like baseball, my favorite sport, writing is not something that often, if ever, spends a night with perfection.
But this, I now have no doubt, is the perfect start to my book writing career. I’ll have typos and mistakes, but I’ll still have my first book, and not just any first book….a book that made The Good Prof proud.