I’s wickid edumacated

I opened up my email yesterday to find this message:


My first thought: Wow, that was quick.

My second: Man, you’re 50 freaking years old. What the hell are you doing in school?

Actually, it’s been a pretty enjoyable experience. Well, except for the time a classmate came up to me to apologize for missing the first day of class. Yeah, I ain’t the professor, hun. I don’t give a rat’s ass that you weren’t here last week.

Come May I’ll have my master’s degree in Media Innovation, a new concentration in Northeastern’s School of Journalism. I was one of the first five students in the program, which, in addition to honing your writing and storytelling chops, helps ensure you become “digitally fluent, from web design, data mining and visualization to knowing how to shoot and edit video.”

Three of the five of us have more than 50 years of combined journalism experience. It’s that whole old dog, new tricks thing.

What am I going to do with my degree once I complete the program? Who knows?

Many people quell the pangs of midlife crisis by purchasing a fancy new car or traveling around the world. I, apparently, just needed something to hang on my wall.

That new book? Well, about that …

I don’t write enough.

There, I’ve said it. Well, I wrote it, which is clearly a step in the right direction. With these three, now four, truncated sentences, I’ve created more non-work-related text than I have in months.

It’s time to break the cycle. It’s time to find more time to write because I enjoy it. I enjoy telling a story. I enjoy pushing a reader toward a place where the story takes hold, where there’s real interest in what you have to say. Make it so it’s tough to put your work down. One more page, one more chapter.

Now you’ve got ’em.

In 2002 I had published a book about the Nashua Dodgers, a groundbreaking minor league baseball team that played a very important role in the integration of baseball. It took me five years to complete the project – four years of research and another year of writing, re-writing, editing, having friends edit, etc. It was a long process, but not too much of an investment of time to dissuade me from entertaining other long-term writing endeavors.

I figured I’d take a year or so off and then jump right into the next project. It took a bit longer than that, but when the idea hit to write another baseball book, this one about the 70 or so people with ties to New Hampshire who have made it to the major leagues, I jumped right in. I quickly decided on the format and leaped head-first into the research. The profiles of the first 55 or so players were done relatively quickly. The five years spent on the Dodgers book would be an eternity compared to the time needed for my second one.

But then writing – and life – got complicated.

Nearly eight years ago I left a job that provided the perfect schedule for writing. These days, after being out of the house for 12 hours and spending all day in front of a computer screen, the last thing I feel like doing is sitting down and banging on another keyboard.

“Granite State Boys of Summer: New Hampshire’s Major Leaguers” is actually about 90 percent done. Finding the urge to finish that final 10 percent is what has proven to be my Heartbreak Hill. I’m struggling to make the climb, but there are no Wellesley College co-eds along Route 135 enthusiastically cheering me on.

All that’s left is me and this godforsaken blinking cursor.

I’m an editor’s nightmare. If I had a book deal the contract would have been shredded long ago.

But I’ve come too far to just give up on it. Now it’s just a matter of proving it to myself, proving that I can finish what I started. Baby steps – that’s all I’m looking for.

One of these days, when someone asks how the book is coming along, I won’t actually grimace.

One of these days.