I Am a Writer

I wrote my first book when I was 8 years old. It was titled "A Tale of Two Knights" and, as you might have suspected, it was inspired by Ivanhoe, The Black Arrow, King Arthur, and other books of that nature.

It was 20 pages long, carefully printed out on lined paper, and you could tell it was a real book because it had a title page, a copyright page on the back of the title page, and running heads with the title on left-hand pages and the author's name on right-hand pages. I had thought of adding a table of contents but decided not to because there were only two chapters.

Fortunately for posterity, that book was lost long ago.

I began to make money through writing the summer after my sophomore year in high school, when I was 14. I worked as a fill-in reporter for the Green Bay Press-Gazette, in my hometown, covering for beat reporters when they went on vacation. I did that for five summers.

At Harvard, I was the student writer in the News Office, where I was succeeded by Peter Benchley, the author of Jaws. After Harvard, I spent a dozen years as a reporter, feature writer, and editor at three newspapers before becoming chief copywriter at the largest Massachusetts Advertising Agency outside of Boston.

(To read more about my jobs, go here.)

In the meantime, I wrote some books, meaning really real books, really published by real publishers. I accidentally became a sports historian in the process, because the books were all about sports history or biography.

I lost count long ago, but I've written several million words. That's not an exaggeration. My books alone total well over 2 million words. During my three-year stint in Ohio, I was writing three editorial columns and three sports columns a week. That's about 6,000 words and I was writing another 4,000 to 5,000 words a week in news and sports coverage. That adds up to at least 1.5 million words.

For most of my time at the New Bedford Standard-Times, I was writing two feature stories a week, one for the Sunday magazine and one for the regular Sunday paper. Conservatively, that's 4,000 words a week for six years, or 1.2 million words. For the other three years, I was also writing a weekly humor column of about 2,000 words, so that's at least another million if you also take into account the book reviews and sidebars to front-page stories I wrote.

So that brings us up to 5.7 million words. And I can't even begin to estimate how many words I wrote during my nearly 25 years as copy chief at Southeastern Advertising Agency. Using a very conservative estimate of 100,000 words a year, That's another 2.5 million, raising the total so far to 8.2 million.

But that doesn't include unpublished novels, stories, jeux d'esprit (some of which can be found in Twice-Told Tales), my former sports history website, or my old "Hickok Sportsthoughts" blog.

If you add all that to the previous total, I think the 20 hand-printed pages of "A Tale of Two Nights" might bring it to an even 10 million words.