Finding writing unexpectedly
Alex Carson | Thursday, March 9, 2017
In many ways, I’m not all that much different as a 21-year-old than I was as a 13-year-old.
Like I did then, I still obsessively follow sports, still enjoy a good math problem and will all too often draw stuff on graph paper in class, just as I did eight years ago.
Hell, my friends and I have gotten on a “Rock Band 2” kick over the last couple weeks, which means I’ve been rediscovering some of those angsty playlists that featured Paramore or Panic! At The Disco. If that isn’t drawing too tight of a similarity to my middle school self, I don’t know what is.
Now, of course, I’ve changed in many ways. What you’re reading right now is evidence of that.
Hate might be too strong a word, but as a 13-year-old, I absolutely despised writing. In-class prompt? Not my scene. Four- or five-page paper? Please, any other assignment.
So when I went to my future high school in the spring of 2009 to register for my first semester of high school classes, I wasn’t really that pleased at my mom’s suggestion — or, more accurately, insistence — that I take a creative writing course that fall.
At the start of that semester, I was reluctant at best to put much effort into the class. Now-14-year-old me still thought I was going to work for NASA one day, and given that, why would I want to become a better writer?
Related: this column is the last time my name will appear above the title “Assistant Managing Editor” in an Observer byline.
As a kid, I enjoyed reading the sportswriting in the Indianapolis Star, but the idea of writing it would’ve always been too far-fetched for someone who never put the time or effort into developing his writing.
Ten high school English credits, two years on the yearbook staff and an acceptance to Notre Dame later, I found myself attending a Sports department information session in the basement of South Dining Hall. Since, I’ve had a byline in this paper most every week, and for the past three years, I’ve spent at least a few hours in our office working on the next day’s paper nearly each week, sticking around due to the unique combination of office camaraderie and getting to cover Notre Dame athletics.
The English department at University High School (yeah, we know it’s a weird name) fashions itself as the greatest in the world — or something like that — and truly, I can’t argue it. My high school teachers took a kid who not only couldn’t write well, but didn’t have a keen interest in getting better, and turned him into someone who’d spend four years of college wasting away more time at a newspaper than he spent on homework.
To those English teachers, and the rest of the faculty, at University, the greatest place in the world: thank you.
You kickstarted me on the path from a kid who hated writing to one who nitpicks hyphen placement and cringe’s every time Ariana Grande’s “Problem” comes on the radio because she sings she has “one less problem,” not “one fewer problem.”
But I won’t hold that complaint against you. The Observer’s to blame for that.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.