I don’t know what what writer John Grogan’s dream was growing up in Michigan, but I’m pretty sure it didn’t involve two Hollywood actors eventually playing he and his wife based on an international best-selling book that he wrote.
But that’s the way it went down. The Marley & Me author is a good example of Mike Rowe’s “Follow your opportunities” school of thought.
“I got into writing by default because I was so bad at everything else. Algebra, geometry, French, chemistry, physics — they all escaped me. But writing, now there was a subject I could have some fun with. By eighth grade I was penning parodies of the nuns, and in high school, besides writing for the school newspaper, I started an underground tabloid, which earned me a celebrated trip to the principal’s office. From there it was on to Central Michigan University, where I earned the princely sum of twenty-five cents per column inch writing for the campus newspaper while slugging away at a double major in journalism and English.
“My first full-time writing job came immediately upon graduation in 1979 when I was hired as a police reporter for the small and lackluster Herald-Palladium in the Michigan harbor town of St. Joseph. I rode all night with cops, photographed murder victims, picked my way through smoldering house fires and sat over coffee with grieving parents.”
John Grogan (Marley & Me)
About John Grogan
Grogan says his “ticket out of small-town journalism” was a fellowship at Ohio State University where he’d earn his master’s degree. A second fellowship to the Poynter Institute for Media Studies took him to St. Petersburg, Florida. After that he got a job at Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale. And it was in South Florida that a little dog named Marley came into his life.
Fast forward a few years and he and his wife would be portrayed in the film version of Marley & Me by Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston.
Follow your opportunities and be faithful in the little things. And as yesterday’s post pointed out, it doesn’t hurt your chances of success if you wake up early and get some early morning writing in before your day job.