Frank Maguire
So, you want to be a writer?
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By Frank Maguire
May 23, 2010

When I decided to get a degree in writing/journalism, I had already done editorial writing and poetry in various publications. I felt pretty good about myself. A college degree would be an honor — a battle ribbon that I could display to impress the public.

I already had a degree in music and had chosen a career in piano-vocal music performance. I recall my first day in Music Theory 101. I was astounded to see the classroom full of the future guitar players and drummers of America. It was standing-room only. Filled with the young and hirsute, in psychedelic shirts and "t's" with the abbreviated wisdom of oracular gurus from exotic places — like India, Greenwich Village, and Venice Beach, California.

Looking around, I began to fear for my financial security. I had worked steadily in the music biz, starting in high school in Boston, MA., and romantic places like East L.A., where I was, at the time, the only "gringo" performing with Latino combos. But, I had visions that if all of the strum-and-drum "cats" got into the "market," I might have a tougher time getting steady work. The immutable law of supply and demand! And, musical entropy!

After the first week of classes, it was obvious that my fears were groundless. About three-quarters of the young and starry-eyed had discovered that music was a discipline, not just three chords in the key of G major, rhythmically droning on, ad nauseam. By the time I got to the study of counterpoint, the classes were virtually empty.

My experience in Writing 101 was much the same. To call courses "Writing" was less than truth in advertising. "Rewriting" would have been more accurate and honest. Talent might be good, but discipline is the condicio sine qua non — "without which (discipline), nothing." Rewriting requires humility, and proper educators are those who dare to discipline — to humiliate, when necessary. Egos were shattered, and real self-estimation, not mere "self esteem," was requisite.

In my junior year, having survived the sophomoric "wise fool" stage, I was tutoring others, and serving as copy-editor on the college paper. It was quite a revelation. I concluded that many who wanted to be writers had never read anything of literary value. Trying to be a writer without the challenge of reading generally produces shallow twaddle. Salacious and insubstantial!

I'll never forget the day when the copy-editor from a major newspaper lectured our class. He was quite forthright. In journalism, he told us, there are some who have good instinct but can't write a legible sentence, and some who have grammatical ability but no talent. This agreed with my own observations.

Analyzing my own druthers, I opted for writing political op-ed's. Being a Boston born and bred Irishman, I believed that I had a political gene. Even in the land of the Red Sox and Celtics, the Irish Bostonian's great American pastime was politics. A victory for the Sox or the Celts was seen as a validation of Boston political superiority, proof that God was on our side.

As the years passed, I came to the realization that adherence to a narrow, partisan political ideology is journalistically dishonest. It took me some time to look at my parochial Boston political indoctrination, and to mature beyond it.

It is unfortunate that American journalism "progressed" into what is called advocacy-journalism. And advocacy — everyone should, after objective investigation, be an advocate of getting to the truth of the matter — has further "progressed" into political partisanship and social-gospel religion. What is fortunate is that the American populace seems to be maturing beyond dependency on Big Media.

There remains much to be done, however. There are still too many factions and institutions that are self-serving, promoting racialism and class envy. There are still too many spin-artist panderers and purveyors of propaganda. The purpose of propaganda is to advocate a Cause, and to censor any fact that conflicts with the Cause. And, often, to get one's self perpetually re-elected to political office.

Will America mature beyond MSM spin? I hope so. If we don't, then to talk about "progress" is an exercise in futility. Whistlin' in the dark!

© Frank Maguire

 

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Frank Maguire

Frank Maguire was born in Dorchester, MA, 1938, attended schools in Massachusetts, California, and Arizona, where he completed degrees in music and English writing/Journalism. Frank has been married to Helen Isabel Maguire née Estevez of Culver City, California, since 1957. They have six children, 14 grandchildren, and 10 great grandchildren.

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