We've come too far to leave this all behind.
-Chicago, "If You Leave Me Now"(Peter Cetera)
Right off the bat, allow me to beg forgiveness. I’m going against a very important rule in this article, the rule that tells you to avoid writing about yourself. But there’s a reason.
This is my 100th column. I’m sure you aren’t surprised that I actually count these things. And I’m hoping that despite the fact that this means something only to me, I might be able to share some thoughts with you about a few things I’ve learned along this surprising two and a half year journey.
The most amazing thing I learned is that writing is incredibly intimate. In fact writing might be the second most intimate thing one can do. Okay maybe third, but don’t go there. The most intimate in my humble opinion is reading.
I know. You’re going: “Is he nuts?” But seriously, think about it. When you read, you are entering someone’s thoughts, thoughts that they’ve allowed to spill out of their inner being and put on paper to share with you.
As Stephen King said in his book On Writing, when you read, no one’s lips move, no sound is made. Yet thoughts are communicated in amazingly powerful ways. You actually wind up inside the head of the writer and as you read you are privileged to know what he or she is thinking, feeling, learning and communicating, hopefully being entertained all the while.
I had no idea what this would be like when I started it two and a half years ago. It began as a humorous jaunt, something I tried simply because my Dad always wanted me to. And after he was no longer around, I felt I should give it a shot, in his honor.
As you probably can tell, I found that I enjoyed it. Immensely. Still do. Will continue to. And that’s the point of this particular treatise. That the powers that be at Milwaukee Magazine have allowed me to post 100 of these things is mind-boggling. And 100 for me is a milestone, a completely personal one, I realize, but the fact that you’ve allowed me to share my thoughts with you through 100 columns over these last two and a half years is quite humbling.
As I said, I’ve learned a lot, about myself and about the power or lack thereof of the written word, during that time. I’ve learned how delicate words are, that the difference between the right word and almost the right word is the difference between night and day.
I’ve learned that you most certainly will annoy someone when you write, and that’s okay, otherwise there’s almost no point in writing. I’ve learned that good writing is impossible without a great editor. I’ve learned from that great editor to leave out the stuff that people skip.
Most importantly, I’ve learned that good, true friends are absolutely priceless. Especially when they loyally read your lame attempts at writing.
So thank you, good, true friends, for sharing this journey with me. Who knows, we might be able to make this last a little while longer. We've certainly come too far to leave this all behind.
I hope you’ll come along.