For years I’ve been a time management junkie. An app freak. A serial buyer of journals and planners. And a writer — in my head, mainly.
Oh, I’ve written plenty in my journals, but mainly about personal stuff that happened that day. Or the trials of a young-turned-older commercial real estate broker. Maybe the challenges of being a Dad to 2 teenage girls. But never a dive into fiction or longer-form stories, and certainly not on a public forum like Medium.
A memory that’s stayed clear in my mind for many years is from my freshman year in high school, over 35 years ago. I attended an all-boys Catholic high school in the DC suburbs — DeMatha Catholic. Its basketball coach, Morgan Wooten, is in the Basketball Hall Of Fame as the winningest high school coach of all time. He was pals with Red Auerbach. The 1978 team was on the cover of Sports Illustrated and ended the season ranked #1 in the country.
DeMatha’s football team has won the past 4 city titles, adding to a tradition of winning that started well over 20 years ago. Its soccer, lacrosse and hockey teams are also accomplished and highly-regarded, producing many scholarship athletes over the years. And its music program, started in 1975 by a prince of a man named John Mitchell — I was a proud trumpet-playing member of both the Wind Ensemble and Jazz Ensemble way back then — has won countless festival awards since its inception. It now includes five concert bands, three choruses, three percussion ensembles, three string orchestras, six levels of music theory, a History of Rock and Roll class, two jazz ensembles, and a pep band for basketball games.
This was the environment I was introduced to in 1975. At the start of that first, steamy week of Freshman English with Brother Ed, we were charged with producing a writing sample. I don’t recall whether a specific topic was assigned, I simply recall sitting down and getting going.
I was always a voracious reader, from a young age. Comic books, story books, novels — it didn’t matter. When I was 6 or 7, my Mom and aunt created a reading alcove for me, complete with appropriate lighting, in what passed for a walk-in closet then. It was more like a crawl-in closet, but it worked fantastically for me and I loved stepping into that small, secluded spot and reading.
So later that week of Freshman English, when Brother Ed started a class with “Who is Jim Farrell?”, I froze. I knew the Trinitarian priests and brothers didn’t mess around at DeMatha, I’d heard it from my cousin Paul, a junior. What could Brother Ed possibly know I did wrong a scant week into my Freshman year!?
I couldn’t make him wait, so I raised my hand and reluctantly identified myself. He walked down the aisle and handed my writing assignment to me with a large red “A+” written on the cover. “Well done” was all he said.
All these years later, I’ve written in numerous journals and on too many to-do lists a variant of “Write more”. That’s one I’ve rarely checked off as “Done”. I realize I’ve been editing in my brain, as I’ve driven the many congested roads around DC, before I ever put anything on digital or analog paper.
I think I’ll just write now. And edit after.