Spent 25 years chasing stories on deadline for the cheap sheets. Now I’m shooting for the impossible from the cheap seats.
I’m calling it Author-ized in ’18. My MFA requires I put this whole book thing together, so it’s now or never. Nothing like a deadline to get you off you dead ass…
But I knew that going in, too. In fact, that’s why I checked the program out in the first place. A way of moving beyond the “Round Tuits” I kept stacking up and actually writing that book I’d always thought I could. Lord knows I’ve been threatening to do so long enough. I just celebrated my 45th birthday last November, and know full well I have every best intention of actually writing book back when I was 20. Of course, I had things to see, stuff to do and probably yours and my share of beers to drink.
And I did. Then a not-too-shabby career as print journalist popped up on my horizon. Sure, I was writing, everyday and then some at most the places I worked. Even won a few awards for my efforts. But while I was busy seeing the great wide wonder, filling my days writing other people’s stories, I never got around to any of my own.
Truth be told, I was getting a hellova lot farther away.
Of course, life often has a way of make you appreciate a thing or two, usually right about the time you starting whining about how much of a rut you feel like you’re in. And boy did life hand me a doozy. Pissed me off so bad, at the time, I swore I’d never write any word again. I barely even signed my name unless I had to.
Funny thing is that about the only thing I remembered, back when I told people I wrote for a living, was this weird glazed look they always got on their faces. It was like they heard what I said. They just didn’t have a clue what language I suddenly took up. Can’t begin to tell you how common that look actually is.
But no sooner than I say to hell with all that and start doing real work, like building buildings and shaping steel, I wind up hearing from many of those same people–those same glazed lookers from before–saying how I really needed to get back to it. They start tossing around words gifts and talents–stuff that crawls up the spine, you know?
You just can’t please some people…
So can an Old Fart learn a new trick or two? Guess you’ll just have to hang around and see. Feel free to follow, maybe even sit a spell. Check out a thing or two. Come see Texas from my point of view, which has always been a little bit outlaw and plenty off-center. You might even find something you relate to.
Until then, here’s some oldies but goodies from my newsroom days. Gonna try to add more of these as I lay hands on them. Here’s a couple to get you started, anyhow. Enjoy!
They may seem right out of the Old West, but truth is, these fellows are our real first line of defense against invading terrorists. If you’ve ever eaten a hamburger, they are, anyway. This won AFBF’s Best News Story in 2009.
It wound being the most costly drought in Texas history, but sometimes it’s not so much the money involved as it is the people. This story, it’s video companion and the website they launched claimed a trio of AFBF bests in 2009.
Just as Texas livestock officials stopped a load of Canadian cattle bound for Mexico at the Rio Grande, livestock leaders from the Lone Star State headed south into Central America to meet with their counterparts, meetings that ended a near decade-long ban on live cattle trade from the United States.
Ever get sick and tired of people bragging about something that ain’t all that? I did. Then I wrote this. I’ve seen it pirated a few times now, but it managed to catch the Texas Press Association’s eye for Best Editorial in 2005.
It’s not every day one finds poetry on a news page, but for this particular story, it just seemed appropriate. I wrote this piece while serving as managing editor in Sealy, TX, USA. It got voted Texas Press Association’s Best News Story in 2005.
Hurricane Ike put a hurt on the Lone Star State back when he blew through, shutting the lights out on nearly half Texas for at least week. But none had it near as dark as young county agent, fresh out of college, still finding his way around the new job, and leery as hell of a redneck reporter who arrived on his stoop one day. He later told me they read these words when they named him agent of year in College Station…
That should get you started. Like I said, I’ll add to this list periodically as I locate them. Hope you enjoy!