Today’s topic on The daily Post is to tell the reason you started blogging.
I suppose the short answer is that I wanted to write.
But, like anything else, there is more to it than that.
All my life, I wanted to be an artist. I felt like I was an artist. I wanted to write, tell stories, draw, paint, create.
When I was a child, I discovered that I could write poetry. My Grandmother was a poet, and reading her poems and then writing one of my own was an easy transition for me. That same Grandmother was also a self-taught painter, and her paintings have inspired me to paint a few canvases of my own.
However, it wasn’t until I was in my late forties, and married for the second time, that I discovered what it is I really love to do. My husband and I were laid off from our manufacturing jobs at the time, and I was getting a little tired of sitting around the house trying to keep it clean. My mother called me one day and said that she had read that my Uncle had his magazine for sale – and I should think about buying it.
My Uncle Joe, my father’s brother, had started a local magazine in 1975. Called Scene Magazine, it was a small, free publication that showcased photography, events and businesses around my city, Wilmington, North Carolina. Or, as Uncle Joe liked to call it – “The Cape Fear Country.”
I knew nothing, and I do mean nothing about publishing a magazine. I had had several jobs – cashier, waitress, seamstress, day care worker, optometry assistant and fiber processing technician – none of which prepared me for writing, editing, laying out and marketing a magazine.
But? I don’t know why – it sounded like a reasonable idea.
So I called my Uncle Joe and we talked about it. I figured he would laugh, tell me to stop being cute and hang up the phone.
But? He didn’t. Actually he said he would love to turn his magazine over to his favorite niece.
Thinking back on it, I’m surprised I had the guts to even approach him. This was my Dad’s brother. He had never had any children of his own and we had never been close. My parents had divorced several years earlier and although I was proud of the fact that my uncle owned a magazine – a magazine that I always proudly picked up and read – I had never talked to him on the phone, never been invited to his house, and, quite frankly, had no idea what he was like.
I had to literally get directions to his house. Every day for six weeks, I arrived on his doorstep with a composition book and a pencil at 9 o’clock sharp to be tutored on how to run a magazine. He taught me everything he knew – how to make a list of advertising prospects, how to call on them to “pitch” our magazine, how to design the ads, how to plan the magazine articles, how to obtain the photographs, how to lay out the magazine, how to organize the pages and get it ready for the printer and how to get the whole thing done and delivered within the 30 days allotted without going crazy.
What he didn’t count on, and couldn’t believe, was that I would learn how to do it as easily as I did, love it as much as he did, and actually want to write the articles and take the photographs as well (two things he had always relied on someone else to do.)
What neither one of us bargained on was that we would discover how much we had in common – we both shared a deep love for our city and its history, we both loved the same music, the same art, the same places, had the same values. We are both deeply religious – yet, don’t feel the need to religiously attend church. We both love the ocean, and dogs, and beer.
I went into it thinking I was going to buy a magazine. What I really got was so much more. I got the privilege of getting to know my Uncle. And we became more than relatives. We became friends.
For thirteen months my sweet husband (who was drafted into helping me with this project against his will, y’all, but he loves me that much!) and I labored seven days a week, and fourteen to sixteen hours a day eating, sleeping and breathing Scene Magazine.
We made it work. We sold enough ads to cover our printing cost, plus a bit more. And for any business in its first year, that was pretty much a success. We had some stunning cover photos, some interesting articles, new advertisers, excited readers and, well, a lot of fun.
We also made a few mistakes along the way, lost some advertisers, lost some money, put way too many miles on our car and about worked ourselves to death.
But we learned a lot.
One day I woke up as if I had been in a coma and realized that I needed help, but could not afford to pay anyone. I also had to admit that this wonderful creation of a magazine was not lucrative enough to pay our bills or provide us with health insurance. At least, not any time soon.
So I went back to work – as an Ophthalmic Assistant. Which is, about as uncreative a job as you can get.
After a year of working for a glaucoma specialist, I saw a want ad in the newspaper one day for a position at one of the other, local magazines (very much like Scene Magazine, but bigger). On a whim, I wrote a letter to the editor, got asked to come in for an interview and wound up with a job as the assistant to the publisher of that magazine and a local newspaper!
I loved working for that company. I was able to write magazine and newspaper articles and seeing my work published in the larger venue was thrilling. And since I wasn’t responsible for the entire publication – it didn’t consume all of my time.
After I had been working there for about another year, I received an unexpected phone call one day from the HR lady at the production facility that I had been laid off from. Business had picked back up and I was being offered a chance to return. Returning meant going back to shift work, long 12 hour days (and nights) and boring, repetitive work. It also meant great medical benefits, union pay, paid vacations, a retirement pension, a 401K and a seven-day “break” (time off!) every month.
I went back to the union job, y’all.
And I don’t regret it (much.) My husband and I work there together and we have the same hours, so that helps. We love having the time off to travel (we just got back from a trip to Florida to visit my Uncle Joe!) and I have made significantly more money doing this than I ever would have from working in the publishing business.
But there are days when I really feel the need to create. To put together a good-looking page. To write an article, or story. To publish pictures of my beloved, beautiful city. To let my creative side get out and stretch its legs for a bit.
To make Uncle Joe proud.
So. Here I am. Blogging.
And I’ve learned that instead of boring articles about what’s going on around the city, or the history of one of the area’s grand homes – I’d rather write about something funny, or ironic that has happened to me. I’d rather write about my family, my hopes, my fears, my life.
And I’ve learned that I’d rather take photographs than paint. That I love to take my camera everywhere, just like I used to do when I was hoping to get a good “cover shot” for my magazine. Only now, I’m thinking about how it will look on my blog, and what I can write about it.
I don’t feel like I’ve even begun to scratch the surface. There is so much left to write about. So much learning to do. So much more improving. And so much more courage needed to tell the stories I have bottled up inside.
Like this one, about why I blog.