I’ve been writing for Chud for a year now. Seems like it has flown by. It started with me taking over The Special Edition and molding it to my own image. Then last September, I started reviewing DVD reviews. The recent Lost: Season 3 review (read it here) would be my 50th review for Chud over the last four months.
Now with the re-design of Chud in full effect, we, the writers can finally create our own blogs. I figure now would be a good time to tell you who the hell I am.
I have wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. Back when I was a kid, I took art classes but my focus was writing comic books and the art was just a way to do it. As I grew into adulthood, I started to read Stephen King and decided that is what I wanted to do. Short stories became my focus and carried on as I started college and began to work towards a business degree. I mean, I couldn’t make a living writing, could I?
My English professor had different thoughts. She told me that the University of Oklahoma had an accredited degree in Professional Writing in its journalism school. She told me that unlike the English creative writing classes, the Professional Writing degree would also teach me how to make a living writing. I bought it and off I went.
In my first year at OU, we were told of all the opportunities that were available to us as extra-curricular activities. I decided to take an intern position at the Sooner yearbook and also took a class that let me write for the Oklahoma Daily newspaper. It was at this time that I realized if I wanted to be successful, I had to fight for everything.
For the news gathering class, I was supposed to come up with ideas for stories. I was watching an OU football game and saw an interview with former Sooner great Brian Bosworth. He was talking about a foundation he had set up that gave tickets to football games to kids from the local children’s hospitals and foster homes. It also gave them to inner city youth groups and children whose parents were victims in the Murrow bombing.
I brought the idea to the Oklahoma Daily and they told me it was a great idea and they were going to let one of their more experienced reporters take it and run.
What the fuck?
I was pissed. This was my story. I didn’t let it keep me down, though. I went to the yearbook and told them about the story and they told me to go ahead and write it for the yearbook. I called the Athletic Director’s office and found out the phone number of Bosworth’s Hollywood agent. I made the call and set up an interview with Bosworth. My phone rang one day and I did the telephone interview with Bosworth. It was my first interview ever. He was the best subject I could have hoped for and was very courteous and open with me.
I went to the newspaper and asked how their reporter was doing on the story and they told me they weren’t sure how to get in touch with Bosworth and were waiting until he was in town. I mentioned that I had already interviewed him and they just kind of looked at me in shock. They asked if I would be interested in writing a story for them.
I wrote the story for the yearbook and it was named the Sooner story of the year. I wrote the story for the newspaper and they saved it and made it the cover story of the game day paper, The Red Zone. It earned Honorable Mention in the state of Oklahoma’s SPJ Awards ceremony for feature writing. I also wrote a “Where Are They Now?” article that was bought and published in the National sports magazine Inside Sports.
That was my first interview ever. My first major story ever.
I wrote for the yearbook for three more years. I won a number of Columbia University Gold Circle Awards. One year I even swept the Sports Feature Writing category, taking first, second and third place. The last year I wrote for them I was standing on the field of the Orange Bowl as Oklahoma beat Florida State for the National Title. It was the best way for me to go out. I wrote an article about MVP Terrance Marshall that was picked up by the AP and carried online for a couple of years.
It was my first story to be widely seen online.
There’s another little story I would like to share. The Rolling Stones came to Norman and played on Owen Field. I tried to get some passes for the yearbook but was told – once again by the Oklahoma Daily – that we would not be able to get them. See, they told me the newspaper would be able to get passes but the event was too big for the yearbook to be allowed in.
What the fuck?, part deux.
No one tells me I can’t do something. I started looking for information. I found a number and called The Rolling Stones management company. Guess what? Press passes. And not the press passes for OU, but press passes reserved especially for me to get in to cover the concert.
Hey, that story won some awards too. Like I said, don’t tell me what I can’t do.
After I graduated I moved a little further into filmmaking than writing. I took a couple of years of film studies classes. I remember in my Intro to Filmmaking class, we were given a paper with a list of web sites we should use when working on film studies. One of the web sites was called Chud.com.
While working on my films over the last eight years, I mainly just wrote screenplays. For a two year period, I did write for two alternative magazines – Loud and Vox. It was nice for awhile, but like most alternative magazines they would not last.
Well, last January Nick let me take over the Special Edition and then in September I was allowed to review DVDs. It’s a great gig, but more than anything else it has allowed me to write full time again. Now, as I write more and more, I have gotten that fire again.
I have started writing a book. It is something I have wanted to do for awhile now. It is a nonfiction book and I hope to have it finished by summer. I won’t say much more about it than that, but the one thing I can promise is that I will finish it.
And you can continue to expect a lot more reviews and a Special Edition that will be better than ever. 2008 is looking to be a good year for Shawn Lealos, the writer.