Sunday, October 02, 2005

Writing What You Know -- What A Concept

(the following column can also be viewed at, where a new column from yours truly appears each Sunday or Monday. They will also appear here for your reading pleasure. For archives of my columns there, go to and click on "Columnists")

If it wasn’t for my wife, I wouldn’t be here right now -- and I mean that literally. I wouldn’t be here, in front of my computer keyboard, tapping away because if she hadn’t given me the simplest yet most brilliant advice ever, a career in writing would have stopped before it even got started.

Almost two years ago, I told Sharon that I wanted to write. Fine. So what did I want to write?
"I want to write speeches," I told her. Again, fine. But speeches for whom, and about what?

"Why don’t you write about what you know best?," she suggested with the most common of sense. "Sports."


Those who know me, and maybe those of you who don’t but have kind of guessed it, know that I am only a table of contents and an index away from being a walking sports encyclopedia. Mostly it has gotten me nowhere except some occasional raised eyebrows when I reveal that I know the 1987 Tigers started 11-19 and then went 87-45 the rest of the way to capture the AL East, and that Alex Delvecchio was born on December 4, 1931 and that the Lions switched from silver numbers on their blue uniforms to white ones in 1983, and that the Pistons once played a playoff game in a Grosse Pointe high school gymnasium.

So why not "write about what you know best?"

Well, thanks to that gem from my own precious little metal, I am on the verge of becoming published for the very first time. Motor City Sports Magazine (MCSM), in the works for about a year, hits the newsstands Tuesday, October 4, and yours truly will have a regular column on the back page. It is a monthly mag that will cover nothing but Detroit and Michigan sports -- pro, college and high school. I will also be contributing other features monthly. And there is, truly, only one person to thank for this.

Shortly after hearing her words of advice, I started writing some columns. Nothing too much -- maybe 600-800 words. I had no place to send them so they just went directly onto my computer’s hard drive. Oh, I printed them and shared them with my immediate family and a co-worker, but they were mainly for practice -- to get a feel for whether I had what it took to make a go of the writing thing.

Then I wrote some more, and some more, mainly about the Detroit sports scene but broadening my focus to national things, too, on occasion. I have always appreciated the humoristic style, so I made sure to keep everything loose and sometimes sarcastic and ironic and, I think, well-paced. It wasn’t all that great, that early stuff, as I look back on it now, but it was okay for me. It whetted my appetite to do more, let’s put it that way.

Anyhow, gave me an opportunity and I was on the Internet and that was cool. A month or so later, I found, and they liked my stuff and said sure, you can write for us too, if you’d like. So I did and ever since then -- since February, 2004 -- I have pumped out at least one column a week (sometimes two or three) and then the guys at MCS got the idea that a magazine would be just swell.

I hate to be so pandering here, but I believe that MCSM will set the Detroit sports scene on its ear.

So here we are, October 2005, and in less than 24 months I have gone from wanting to write speeches for phantoms to writing sports columns for living and breathing magazine readers who just happen to be the exact demographic that I am. Who says dreams can’t come true?

Of course, ever since Sharon encouraged me with her short but sweet suggestion, she has had to lose her husband for hours at a time as I have sat in front of this monitor, either staring at the blank screen or typing feverishly. I tend to write when an idea hits me, or a mood strikes me, and neither of those things necessarily happen when it is convenient for her or this household. I am sure that there have been moments when my writing all the time -- and then you throw my daily blog into the mix and...whammo -- has been like nails on a chalkboard for her. Maybe even nails right across her face.

But she has been great about it, God bless her, and now that one dream -- to be published -- has been fulfilled, she is more on board than ever. If you guys out there don’t do anything else with your lives, at least go out and marry a beautiful, supportive, smart woman. Trust me, you’ll enjoy it.

I hate to be so pandering here, but I believe that MCSM will set the Detroit sports scene on its ear. Not often can the producer of a product confidently maintain that what it is offering is absolutely unavailable anywhere else. And last I looked, there are no other magazines out there devoted solely to our sports teams. If we do this right, it will rock. So we’d better.
You'll see this on selected newsstands Tuesday (you can also subscribe -- hint, hint)

Throughout my career, which had mainly been in television production until 1998, I have met countless athletes and coaches and rock musicians and other celebrities, and have been inside lockerrooms and press conferences and press boxes, and so that part of this new chapter of my life isn’t new to me. Been there, done that. But this time it means more. It’s seeing the words that begin on my monitor ending up on a printed page, to be read by what we hope will be tens of thousands of sports fans -- maybe more -- that makes this far more gratifying. It’s seeing the realization of something that was merely folly less than two years ago that makes it different. It means getting your facts straight and double-checking grammar and punctuation and the spelling of names and knowing that this isn’t just for the hard drive anymore.

It’s for people like me -- and, I hope, you -- who share a love and passion for sports and who just can’t get enough of it.

But it’s also for that lovely lady who said, with wonderful brevity and wisdom, "write about what you know."

I may be a walking sports encyclopedia, but I wish I knew as much about sports as she knows about being a wife.

1 comment:

Ian C. said...

I'm looking forward to the first issue, Greg, and your place in the "Rick Reilly spot." And I think you're definitely providing Detroit sports fans something they haven't had in a long time (or maybe ever). My fingers are crossed for you.