A 27-Year-Old Writer Wise Beyond His Years

It was right after the turn of the millennium that Ryan Songalia, then 13, spent Christmas in a Texas juvenile detention center. And even as recently as three years ago, the future seemed less than assured, despite a trip to Carnegie Hall to accept a journalism award.

From Songalia’s powerful New Year’s Eve essay:

Just months prior to my Carnegie date, when I was waiting tables at a Cheesecake Factory restaurant in Hackensack, New Jersey, I couldn’t have even imagined anyone reading my stories. Years earlier, when I was wrapping vegetables at a Japanese supermarket in Edgewater at age 17, I could not have foreseen that my hobby would be my key to discovering more of the world than I could see from my bedroom window.

Today, I edit the sports section of the site that you’re reading this essay on, having relocated to my father’s homeland of the Philippines two years ago from my native New Jersey to explore career options. Since devoting myself to writing at age 19, I’ve written for outlets like the New York Daily News, Esquire Philippines, USA Today and The Ring magazine (where I’m still employed).

At one point, Songalia was supporting his younger brother by working as a day laborer and stealing WiFi signals from his Union City rooftop at night, as he researched (then unpaid) online outlet stories. Until some neighborhood drug addicts stole his laptop computer.

Songalia’s essay is a tale of New Year’s Resolve, ahead of all those Resolutions. As such, it’s a perfect way for any fellow scribbler to end 2014. Read it, bookmark it here. And Happy New Year, from FishbowlNY, to one and all.