Having completed the year-by-year series (to date), I just wanted to wrap things up in one final post because the series has been such a constant - and in many ways important - part of my life for the last two years. The truth is that the year-by-year posts have played an important role in my life over the last two years, and I wanted to show you how something that started out so small, a hobby even, has turned into something a lot bigger than that.
I really started writing the year-by-years for a lot of reasons. Most importantly, I suppose, I started writing them because Fooch asked me to. At the same time, I thought it would be a fun way to learn about the history of a team that I was, for all intents and purposes, only aware of going to the late ‘80s. They day Fooch approached me for the series, I couldn't have told you who Buck Shaw was. I had no idea. At the same time as that, I was a little lost with the direction of my own writing. I was unemployed at the time. I had visions of suddenly breaking through, writing my novel, and being an overnight success. But I was also terrified that nothing I did would work. I mean, my head wasn't completely in the clouds. I was trying to get actual employment in either of the writing or editing fields. But I wasn't writing. I had no writing samples to speak of. I was drifting.
Getting into the year-by-years gave me something to focus on. The day that I finished the 1946 entry, I had the first piece of text that I could point to as an accomplishment. Really, it wasn't practical for me to point a prospective employer toward NinersNation and say, "Look what I did!" But having completed a concrete writing project - even that one small victory - gave me the impetus to push harder. It chipped away at my anxiety. Hell, it got me writing again. And that energy was one of the earlier chains in what is now a long chain of events that find me where I am now.
But before I get ahead of myself...
I really want to thank Fooch, and I really want to thank the readers here. At the beginning, I really just hoped that I would be able to learn a few things, have a good time doing it, and improve my writing in the process. Over the course of the series, I've found that I've benefited more than anything else from the support of the people who wanted to learn this stuff alongside me, the input from the people whose personal stories in the comments sections turned each entry into something much greater, and the criticisms of the people who were willing to point out when I had screwed up.
I remember back when I was writing about Bob. St. Clair, I went on for a paragraph or so about how he was nicknamed "The Greek". I even had a clever riff about how appropriate it ended up being that it was his Achilles tendon that eventually ended his career. It really was a special piece of writing. Of course, Bob St. Clair was nicknamed "The Geek" because of his eating habits. I was embarrassed to have screwed up, but also pleased when it turned out the person who took it upon himself to correct me had been born in the ‘30s and had been a fan since the ‘60s. To see that NinersNation was bringing together such a diverse group of people - particularly as blogs are concerned - and to see that my writing was contributing to that was a special thing. I loved every correction I got from that point on, because I knew it meant that people cared. I've never had people care about my writing before. So this has been a very special experience for me.
In a more direct sort of way, this series about the history of the 49ers has actually played an important role in my future. I never would have thought that the year-by-years would extend beyond this website. Not in my wildest dreams. But even early on, I found that it was creating opportunities for me.
When I was beginning to write the pieces that covered Y.A. Tittle's career, I was contacted by a person named Kristine Clark, who was working with Tittle on a book about his career. Kristine had been impressed by my research, and wanted to use some of the information in the year-by-years as reference for the book. I ended up providing Kristine with a year-by-year style entry on every year of Tittle's career, including those away from the 49ers. The resulting book is titled Nothing Comes Easy: My Life in Football. You can buy it at your local bookstores. If you're ever there, check out the back of the book. I'm actually credited by name. Now that I think about it, it's actually long overdue that I give Kristine the plug she so richly deserves for that book. Go check it out. There is important 49ers history there you'll be missing if you don't.
So that alone was pretty unbelievable to me. I started a fun-time project on the Internet and ended up with citation in a book!
But wait, it gets better.
Last year, I made the decision to seriously pursue graduate school. I have been out of college for three years. I had been working full-time for two of them. And I realized that I wasn't going to get where I want to be in life without another degree. When it came time to complete the applications, I needed to supply each school with personal references - people who could vouch for the quality of my writing and my creative potential on top of it. The more I thought about it, the more it made sense to ask Fooch. Few people have been more exposed to my capabilities as a writer. So even though it seemed strange to be asking for the good word of a man who I have never met personally and who lets me write on his unofficial blog, I couldn't think of many people more appropriate for the role.
Fooch wrote me a letter of recommendation to graduate school.
I cited my work on the website in my applications. I linked to the website in my applications.
This fall, I'm going to graduate school.
So, I really am amazed at how much fulfillment this blog, this series, and this community of people has been able to bring to my life. I owe you guys. Thank you. This has been great.
As one final note: I do plan to continue writing for NinersNation in whatever capacity makes the most sense. Fooch and I are still working out the details of that, but in the meantime we would love to get any suggestions on what you think I might be best suited for. What would you like to see me write about?