by Eric Wendt
I get to tell people I write for a living.
That doesn’t hold anywhere near enough cultural cache to improve my chances of taking someone home at last call (fucking everyone has a blog, dude) and it means I earn roughly the same amount as a moderately successful pizza delivery boy on an annual basis, but I love it. I know the description is a meaningless vanity construct, and I realize the type of writing I do now is the exact kind of corporate shilling teenage me would’ve quoted Dead Kennedy’s lyrics at, but I love it.
My job is to create stuff out of words. And I wouldn’t have it without my time at Synthesis.
If you would have told 17-year-old me that I would someday live in Chicago and pay my way through the world as a professional writer, I probably would’ve asked you if I could have some change to buy heroin. And then I would’ve called you a fucking idiot quietly and behind your back because I was a coward and still am.
But I was lucky enough to encounter amazing people at crucial points in my life (I realize now my collegiate life was like a low-rent, WASPy version of Stand and Deliver but with absolutely none of the racial or economic challenges).
The most important was my community college journalism professor, Laura Paull, who opened my eyes to the fact that I had an iota of writing talent and potential when I wasn’t fucking up my life. After her came CSU, Chico journo wiz Dave Waddell, who basically recruited me from the shithole that is Modesto to write for The Orion. And, finally, the entire Synthesis crew, specifically Jake Sprecher, Karen Potter, and Bill Fishkin, who gave me opportunities that have quite literally changed the direction of my life forever (I know, I know; I’m making the jerking off hand motion right now, too).
Calling my post-grad tenure as managing editor of the Synthesis a “job” in the traditional sense is laughable (I typically paid writers in bar bucks to Duffy’s that I myself was not shy about utilizing, usually resulting in me curled up on the office couch, hungover and trying not to die like Crash Holly). However, it was the first legitimate gig I ever had that wasn’t working in some service industry hellhole, and, more importantly, it was writing.
I got paid to write. I got to tell people I was writing for a living.
My early to mid-20s were basically a blur of substance abuse, toxic relationship melodrama, serious emotional, psychological and behavioral shortcomings and general malaise (my late-20s have been essentially identical but with slightly less substance abuse). That said, I always had a place at Synthesis. I made some of my best friends there. I learned more about writing and publishing and the real-world career aspects of writing there than I did anywhere else.
Being forced to put out a sizeable collection of words each and every week while wrangling a mötley crüe of writers, designers, ad people, and sitcom-ready office drop-ins was a real education, and there’s no way in hell I would have had the experience, knowledge and chutzpah to jump into a bigger pond without my time at Synthesis.
So, to everyone I worked with, I love you and I’m sorry if I was (I definitely was at some point) an asshole. I’m even sorrier to see Synthesis go, but the fact that it’s leaving once its hit legal drinking age is too perfect to pass up.
Mmmmmwah. Hopefully I see you all at that big ol’ Duffy’s in the sky someday.