Some days I just don’t know what to write. This column can be a difficult project to write on a weekly basis, but I’ve been doing it for I think almost nine years now. Some of my columns are sheer genius, and others are utter crap. I know that.
Coming up with new ideas every week is not always an easy thing to do. I’ve written about significant federal issues and some inconsequential local issues that annoy just me. I’ve written about my family, my love life (and sometimes my lack of one), my divorce and family law practice, and my dog. I’ve addressed small town politics and global geopolitical issues. I’ve attacked religions, politics, racism, bigotry and NIMBYism.
I’ve been blessed with three excellent editors, and over the years we’ve worked together to shape the column and tailor it to be more in line with both my writing style, and the needs of the community, for the purpose of a paper is to serve its community.
When this column started it was a very dry, legal information column. That didn’t last long. It has since grown in both size and scope. As I’ve stretched in my writing skills, it has expanded to accommodate me. I’ve learned that the more open I am as a person about what is happening in my life, where I’ve come from, and the truth of my world, the more interested people are in my writing. The more I reveal about who I am, the bigger and better response I receive.
People come up to me in the grocery store, or stop by my table in a restaurant and tell me how much a particular column meant to them. Sometimes it is because I’ve shared some personal drama and they relate, or other times, they stop to say they appreciate my putting into words what they were thinking.
I’ve always loved the newspaper business, from the time that I took journalism in high school to learning how an offset press works, which I did at University High School. I have no illusions that I am a journalist. I am a columnist who writes about my opinions and experiences — it’s all very subjective.
Journalists on the other hand are objective and they are a vital part of our society. They act as the “guards who guard the guards” and it is their purpose to go beyond what a government official is saying and to get to the heart of the matter. Reporters and editors investigate and disclose to the world what is really going on behind the closed doors of government, and industry.
As an editor on my high school newspaper it was my job to come up with ideas for new stories and do the layout. I loved the layout days. This was in the olden days when you used X-Acto knives, and paste, and had to physically create a page.
Story sessions were always chaotic periods, either because there were too many stories of great importance to the mind of a teenager who was itching to write about the scandal that was occurring on the girls’ volleyball team, or worse, deadly silence because we were all tapped out on new ideas to write about and deadlines were looming.
I can only imagine how hard it must be for the editors and writers of a daily to come up with enough new stories to fill the pages of a paper six days a week. But I can tell you that I am very grateful for this paper and the hard work of the staff , day in and day out.
My column has over the years received many comments. Most of them are positive, and a few of them have been downright funny in their vitriol and hatred (those were mostly the Mormons by the way). I am blessed to have a soapbox from which to spout off. I have learned many things along the way, I have stumbled across sacred cows at times, and at others found that what I think is important, no one else cares about.
I wanted to take today’s column, to say thank you to Carolyn Sackariason who gave me a shot years ago when I first pitched my idea for a column, to Michael Tittinger who kept me on a clear path with my writing, and to Kevin Herrera who has helped me become more local and focus on the community at large. They have all helped me grow as a writer, and more importantly as a person. And finally to Ross Furukawa, the publisher, the man who keeps the lights on, and the computers clicking, thank you for the hard work, long hours and dedication to a local outlet for news.
I look forward to another nine years of writing, of working with the awesome newspeople of the Santa Monica Daily Press, of occasionally tweaking the nose of some government official, and sharing my thoughts and my life with the community at large.
David Pisarra is a family law attorney focusing on father’s rights and men’s Issues in the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 664-9969.