Ryan Zimmerman owned more computers than anyone I knew at the time. He was 14 and ran his own bulletin board server from his bedroom via an ISDN line in a time when most people only had dial-up. Our high school had just got it’s first T1 line the year before, a connection that’s slower than most people’s cell phone today.
That was roughly the story that got me fired from my first writing job. It was my first semester working for Kite, the yearbook at our high school. My assignment was to write a feature story that would be included in the yearbook that year. I knew Ryan and that his story was unique, but I didn’t know how to make it interesting.
My teacher had me re-write the story 3 times, but ultimately she failed me on the assignment and kicked me out of the class. Now I write stories like that almost everyday. I write them on Facebook, Twitter, and on this blog. I write them in emails to coworkers and to friends. I write them in reports and in documentation that gets stored on servers.
It’s all boring.
No one wants to read about someone who has everything. They want to read about the boy who struggled and overcame. Okay, so he had a fast connection and a lot of computers. No one cares. If I would have wrote about how he got cigarettes from his parents and stole computer parts from Best Buy, maybe I’d have an article in the Kite, but I didn’t.
I hated school. I still do. In Spanish class I wrote lyrics. In Math class I wrote short stories. In church I’d write to the person sitting next to me. At college I’d chat with girls on AOL Instant Messenger. I learn by writing. I like telling stories, but I’m not very good at it because I don’t like conflict and without conflict, there is no story.
What’s your story?