Here is a reality that was tough for me to accept: Writers come a dime a million.
Good writers come a dime a hundred. Successful writers? That’s usually where the math gets a little tricky.
Why is this the case? It’s because everyone believes they are a writer.
The guy at the register at the gas station. Your 5th grade Biology teacher. Your great-grandmother.
Everyone believes they have a book in them, a provocative blog idea, or are the missing link to their local newspaper’s editorial board.
(And to be honest, most of the time, I think those assumptions are correct.)
The beautiful thing is that anybody CAN write, but most people don’t.
As a result, writers, especially those who have made it far enough to actually get paid for their words, are notorious for keeping their formula, their ‘secret sauce’ close to their chest. Oftentimes, after years of pounding away to get their first story printed, their first agent, their first publisher, their first contract, many feel the path to success isn’t one that should be given away easily.
This is where Evan Moore sets himself a part.
I asked Evan for guidance as it pertained to my writing, just as his star was beginning to rise. Having met him only once or twice, I expected the brushoff, but that was the opposite of how he responded.
“Sure,” was his one word response that, over time, I would come to see as his e-correspondence trademark.
Unsure of what I would ask the man who evolved from a bar bouncer to a conservative-leaning blogger to Tribune Media contributor to HuffPo blogger to MSNBC panelist to an in-demand sports journalist before my very eyes, I felt gravely unprepared to meet with him. But from the little that I discerned about him, I knew that I wasn’t unique. Anyone who follows his work knows that Evan spends almost as much time cultivating other’s dreams of writing than carving out a spot for himself amongst the writing elite.
I have enjoyed Evan’s writings on topics spanning across race and politics, his love of hockey and his family. So when it came to think about the first person who I would want to start off this series, Evan felt like the obvious choice.
Q & A with Evan Moore, Journalist
Kay S: As a hockey fan, I think it is safe to assume that America would see you as a “safe” Black man. Do you feel “safe”?
Evan: Yeah, I do... most of the time. But I wouldn’t say I’m “safe”. I would say I know how to adjust to any social setting. Ironically, black people give me more s--t about hockey than white people do. The guys at the rink I skate with are only worried about my willingness to play the game. About the fear, it is definitely a gift/curse. I remember when I first moved to Ukrainian Village, every dog on the block would bark like crazy when they saw me. I’ve also seen people become intimidated by my appearance. After all, I used to be a nightclub bouncer.
Kay: What do you think would make you feel safer? More police, better cell phone cameras or the decriminalization of drugs?
Evan: People being less judgmental. Let go of stereotypes. That’s tough for some since many of us believe it is a time saver. Less cable news. Practice news literacy. Listen to alternative point of views. We tend to only respect the opinions we like. If everyone agreed with each other all the time, the world would be a boring place. Embrace debate!
On Cops vs. Gangs
Kay: What is the first emotion that you feel when you hear stories of Black men dying at the hands of police?
Evan: It makes me angry. I often think of the circumstances that led to the confrontation. Systemic issues along with many other things often leads to these fatal circumstances.
Kay: Does that emotion change when you hear of Black men dying by the hands of other Black men?
Evan: Believe it or not, it is the same for me. I think we’re doing ourselves in with this stuff. After all, it only hurts our communities.
Kay: Which would you rather report on? Police who abuse their authority or people who believe in no-snitching?
Evan: Both since they are one in the same. Many of my police friends will talk about the protesters in Ferguson and Baltimore but not about calling out their fellow co-workers for some of the things they do. Deep down, they know exactly why cops are either feared or hated in certain communities.
On American Terrorism
Kay: Which group scares you the most? The growing numbers of e-racists (ie people who only feel confident being racist over the internet) or ISIS?
Evan: E-racists are the worst. They often come from the last place you look. I had a former co-worker whom I became friendly with outside of work,say something about Derrick Rose online that had nothing to do with basketball. Ironically, he’s a fan of The Wire. As for the people I deal with on Twitter/Facebook, that comes with territory when since I often write about polarizing issues. It is amazing to watch how social media gives keyboard courage to so many people.
On Image and Perception
Kay: Even as a “safe” Black man, do you feel like you are always one false move from being seen as criminal and violent?
Evan: Yep. Violence can happen at anytime. You never know someone’s intentions.
Kay: Do you feel like your life depends on your ability constantly pacify the fears of others?
Evan: Yes, like I said earlier, I used to be a bouncer. That job is all about putting people at ease. Believe it or not, that’s where I cut my teeth in journalism. If I can handle a frat boy, gang banger or hipster, I can handle a pro athlete and an alderman.
Kay: Do you feel like the American dream is attainable?
Evan: Yes, I know most black people don’t believe that but we’re Americans too. We’re not going anywhere. Ha ha. We want the same things out of life as anyone else.
On Being a Black Man
Kay: How would you describe being a Black man in America in one word?
Evan: Polarizing. We invoke every emotion possible.
Kay: Answer these questions as quickly as possible.
Evan: All I need in this life is me and my [family].
Kanye was right about [racism in music and fashion].
I will teach my daughter to [respect herself and others].
Martin Luther King was wrong about [his admiration of Gandhi].
The biggest threat to Black men is [fear of being different].
Evan F. Moore writes about sports, politics, race and culture. His work has appeared in The Nation, Chicago Tribune, The Shadow League, Thrillist, Thrillist Chicago, Red Eye, Chicago Reporter, Daily Herald, Huffington Post, Time Out Chicago and Community Media Workshop’s We Are Not Alone/No Estamos Solos project on youth violence. Follow him on Twitter @evanfmoore.
Kay S. is a freelance writer and blogger in Chicago, Illinois. Her debut novel, Lotus, will be released in September 2015. If you are interested in participating in this series, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.