Billfold pal Jessica Gross asked a bunch of famous people about one of their “great moments in inspiration” for The New York Times Magazine, and even though I am not a famous person, I’m going to go ahead and write about a moment when I was inspired right here on this blog, because I’m allowed to do that. Maybe you’ll feel inspired and share one of your moments too.
This was a time during my senior of college when I was convinced that I was on my way to law school, and was taking a journalism class to finish up the last of the credits I needed to graduate. For one of our assignments, our professor brought in a stranger into the classroom, and asked us to take notes as he told us about the first trip he took to Fenway Park with his kids, and what he remembered about it. We were supposed to go home and use our notes to retell his story, which was an easy enough assignment.
When I got home, I thought about how some of my favorite writers were able to take ordinary moments—like a trip to a baseball game—and turn them into memorable and extraordinary pieces of writing. So, I took what was supposed to be a quick and easy assignment, stayed up all night, and wrote the heck out of it. I felt really proud of my work, but was afraid I might have overwritten it. In class the next day, our profesor asked for three volunteers to read their assignment so that we could all see how different writers approach the same story. Feeling unconfident, but wanting feedback on something I worked hard on, I raised my hand and did the first reading. When I was done, my teacher nodded and smiled.
“That, folks, is how you write,” he said. “Who wants to go next?”
Nobody raised their hands. This is the day my professor asked me to stay after class for five minutes so he could convince me I should consider becoming a reporter. A few months later, I was in D.C., reporting from the steps of the Supreme Court.