Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Me Fail English? That's Unpossible!

And thank God for that. Because without English, who knows where I'd be.

During my second semester as a college freshman, three days a week I had an 8 a.m. statistics class followed by a 9 a.m. macroeconomics class.

The subject matter itself was a struggle for me to grasp; the instructors dry, the material lifeless.

And not being a morning person, the pairing of these two courses back-to-back at the earliest time possible created the perfect storm for failure. Actually it was less a storm and more like a loud, combustible series of auditory explosions - at least when my parents and I received my final grades.

But it also redirected me to a career as a writer, and for those two Fs, I will be forever grateful.

I made up the classes to ultimately boost my final GPA to a respectable level. And in the meantime, I faced the fact that perhaps a career as a financial analyst or accountant was certainly not in the offing.

Aside from the music classes and serious lessons that I'd lived for throughout high school (and I'd firmly decided against the conservatory route), English had always been my strong suit.

An introductory communications class, for all its theory and citation-filled lecturing by the professor, was revelatory. . . and writing for the newspaper became my new diversion. Or ancillary education, as it were.

After transferring to a university in New England, I endured the scoffs of Boston Globe and Herald editors who dissected our leads in front of the whole class.

Who made me think about the kinds of questions each type of story required.

Gave me practical tips, like always carry a pencil when covering a fire.

And drummed into me the importance - and reasoning behind - pyramid style.

And I loved it.

Sure, the hard core newspaper or broadcast newsroom wasn't for me; I realized that early on. But I was armed with skills that would serve me well for the rest of my career, a career that nobody could have predicted thanks to Al Gore's miraculous invention - the Internet.

I owe it all to two Fs . . . and hearing that they had something to say.

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