Friday, May 01, 2009

Doors Closing, Others Opening

Sometimes things end with a huge bang, bursts of smoke and lots of noise.

Other times things end with a whimper, a whisper or an uncanny sigh.

Sometimes stuff just ends.

So it is that after working as a "perma-lancer" for the last 15 years for a single newspaper entity, my work is done.

Yesterday I received word that there is no more money for the stories I wrote and poured my heart into.

Just like that, the door closed. It was a pretty powerful slam.

Essentially I lost a major client, since I am self-employed. I have a few other folks I write for on occasion but this was my bread and butter. This was consistent and constant and I lived and breathed it.

It was also my joy. I cannot tell you what it meant to me to be the person who interviewed interesting folks and reported on them, the person who spent time at meetings and then worked hard to explain what happened so that everyone could understand it.

I loved writing my little stories, my vignettes of someone's life and the stuff that makes up the day to day news.

I did the job well, as a number of Virginia Press Association Awards will attest. I worked hard and I took the job seriously. If I said I would be at a meeting, only an ambulance ride would have kept me away.

I am told it is difficult to find freelancers who are true to their word and who will continue to produce near-perfect copy and who require little editing and oversight. But that is me. It's how I have always done things. I always tried to determine my editor's needs and I met them in the best way I knew how.

Now I will take a long hard look at myself. Maybe with a little repackaging I can find a new route. New clients and new stories of a different kind are perhaps in my future.

Maybe this time I will find a career path that will lend me down even more exciting venues. Perhaps they will be more lucrative, but I honestly have never been in it for the money.

I have been a newspaper writer for the love of the word, the ability to share and teach the public, and the pure unadulterated joy of being part of my community in a way that made sense and worked for me.

I write because it is the way I share parts of myself and the world. It is how I express what I am thinking and feeling.

It is who I am, and now who I am must be revisited.

While I am sad at this change, and a little worried about my financial future, a part of me is excited at this opportunity. My calendar, filled with reoccurring appointments in the form of town council and other meetings, is suddenly a vibrant mostly white blank, another page for me to fill.

Filing cabinets full of newspaper material will be empty, and I will have to find something else to fill them.

And maybe, who knows - this is the time to write that book.


  1. Dew, I'm so sorry about your job loss. Just from reading your blog, I can tell you are truly a writer in the purest sense.

    As I was reading your post, I kept thinking "this is the time to write that book". I'm so glad you said it yourself!

  2. I vote that you write the book! Bummer, though, after all your great work. Best wishes in your new endeavors!

  3. You may say did not do it for the money, but the fact is that this still stinks. I'm so sorry to hear about this, Anita. I loved the few articles of yours that I read, and always enjoy reading your blog.... your words make it evident that you are indeed a writer and were always meant to be a writer.

    Write the book for heaven sakes... now there is nothing in your way. No excuses. I'll buy a copy or two!


  4. The state of newspapers in this country is dire it's not surprising to hear what happened. I know the change will ultimately be a good one for you!

  5. Write the book! Write several books.

    When Womack Publishing would no longer pay for my column in the Smith Mountain Eagle, I reinvented myself, too.

  6. I'm so sorry to hear this as I know you definitely did not do it for the money! Things happen for a reason even if we don't know it at the time. Maybe it's your time now to write the book. Oddly, today was the last day that I get the Roanoke Times delivered. After 15 years, I finally fired them.

  7. This scares me and I'm shocked and sad to hear this. But I also think you could probably use a break and I trust that the skill you've been honing these years will not be wasted. How about a compilation book of your stories. Or that novel?

  8. Yes - write the book!

  9. So sorry to hear this news. It's a sad state of affairs in our economy. I'm sure things will sort out well for you. It is obvious you love your work and you're very good at it, so don't reinvent yourself too much!

  10. Sending you a big hug, only because it can stabilize us to then take a breath and move forward. You are a writer to your core, and write you must and so the vehicle to share your writing will appear. It is most certainly their loss, and will be felt and noticed throughout the community. It's a true shame that when challenge appears some choose to dig further into the hole instead of jumping out of the hole and taking a leap of faith in a new direction. I look forward to the book about to be born! Love you, B

  11. Anita, I'm sorry. It must be very difficult to so abruptly come to the end of something you've poured your heart into for such a long time. I'm glad to hear, though, that you are already beginning to see it as not just a door closing but a door opening into so many other wonderful possibilities. Best wishes to you as you travel a new path in your journey. May it be an exciting one!

  12. I'm sorry to hear about this and, as you know, i'm in the same situation. Things will work out and fall into place for each of us, and they all happen for a reason! I guess we'll just have to find out what happens through each other's blogs...hehe!

  13. Maybe it is time to become an activist in the movement to change the way newspapers are run in this country. I watched Obama do his "roast" last night and rolled my eyes when he quoted Thomas Jefferson about newspapers and government. Corporate media have ruined journalism in this country and that is part of the reason that people don't read newspapers any longer. It only took me one year to "fire" the Roanoke Times, for instance. I don't know where journalism is going in this country, but we need some spinach with our pudding, as another person wrote about the crisis. Journalism helps create community - it is so important! A door has closed in your life -- see if you can't find a new one opening. When Molly Ivins died, I missed her writing very much, but others have filled the hole, somewhat. There will always be a place for good writers - I believe that! Keep plugging away!


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