This month, it’s been four years since my first column appeared on WorldNetDaily. Weeks before then, I had sent in some essays to Joseph Farah with little expectation of a response, much less the prospect of getting published, and even much less gaining a column, but we of course now know how that worked out. It was a thrilling opportunity for me and somewhat of a social experiment, no doubt. What happens when you give a near-13-year-old a column? I didn’t even know myself.
Initially, it was just a week-to-week thing without much of a direction ideologically or creatively. Even now, I’m the most under-qualified and inexperienced columnist on this website. For some reason, people read what I wrote. I received speaking invitations, which, except for the actual speaking part, I enjoyed very much. I received invitations for radio interviews. For the first several times, it’s quite frightening to see an out-of-area number on the caller ID and know that thousands of people are waiting on the other end of the “talk” button.
Several months later, I was given the opportunity to write for WND’s book label. I didn’t truly understand the gravity of the situation at the time. I don’t think I had ever written anything over 3,000 words, but the responsibility to fill 80,000 or so words was laid at my feet. The deadline ominously loomed on the horizon, but I did my duty, and with each challenge I grew to become someone else – hopefully someone better. The book was published in April 2003 and the media tour that ensued was overwhelming: cable television, local news, national and local newspapers, national and local radio, and speaking engagements. It’s a frightening thing to sit in a studio chair at 14 years old as Bill O’Reilly towers over you and cameras capture every moment, but I did the song and dance.
The past two years have been seemingly less eventful, but in many ways just as challenging in my writing and even more so in my personal life. Being given a forum through which to voice opinions is a double-edged sword. There’s much flattery from ideological peers, but there’s also much criticism voiced by everyone else. To be given such accountability at such a young age never stopped me from making mistakes, but it forced me to own up to my statements if only through e-mails and sometimes even in interviews. That sort of responsibility is hard to find anywhere else, but even more so for a teenager.
So, what does happen when you give a young teenager a column? Well, I can tell you from experience. You make a lot of mistakes and you say things you regret, but you also grow and change. Your beliefs evolve and you eventually end up in a place you never expected. More than anything, it’s a fast-paced education. I wouldn’t give up what I’ve experienced these past four years for anything.
Even so, all things eventually come to an end. I’ve given the future of my column much thought over the past several months, and I’ve realized I want to pursue other things beyond the realm of political punditry. So, it is with that desire in mind that my regular political writing will be ending with this column. There are several writing projects I’ve been working on which hopefully will materialize.
I don’t mean to turn this column into an award show speech, but I do want to thank a few people. I couldn’t have done anything without my parents and they firstly deserve thanks. I want to thank Joseph Farah, Tom Ambrose, Ron Strom and everyone else at WorldNetDaily who helped me. Also, thanks to Joel Miller, Bob Keyser, Chris Knight and David Yeagley. More than anything, I want to thank you, the readers, for your consistent patience and dedication. I’ve unfortunately conversed with very few of you and met even less of you, but that maybe makes it even more of an honor to have my words freely read – I have to say there’s nothing else like it in the world.