When this blog topic first crawled into my otherwise unoccupied mind I thought about listing in the headline all the figurative hats I wear.
Such a headline would be too long, way too long. Here is the list of my various jobs and duties:
- Freelance writer.
- Preceptor (A fancy word for teacher.)
- President (Not, it should be noted, of the United States of America. I don’t send out angry, unhinged tweets at 5 a.m.)
- Trustee. Huh? I’ll explain later.
- Sideline reporter. Sideline reporter? For who? The Luddite Network? More on this later. (I’m no Erin Andrews, that’s for sure.)
That last one is strikingly obvious. This is a blog. That means I’m a blogger. Theoretically somebody somewhere may at some point read this post. In theory.
How did all this come up to pass? How did I find myself with all this stuff filling my time and diverting my attention from important obligations like naps and working out on the elliptical machine at Planet Fitness?
It goes back a few years.
When I left the Fort Myers News-Press on a Friday the 13th in 2012 figuratively clutching my buyout papers to my bosom I wasn’t sure of much. I knew my fulltime newspaper career was behind me after 25 years at the News-Press and 40 years in total, counting time as a kid working in a newspaper mailroom in St. Petersburg.
I knew I wanted to write a novel and try freelancing for a while. That was six years and six weeks ago.
Things kept happening. Opportunities kept popping up. I couldn’t say no. I can’t say no. I don’t want to say no because I don’t want to give up any of it.
Starting from the top, the week after I left The News-Press I started on a novel that I like to call a comic crime caper. The title is “Grabmore” and was received by overwhelming international indifference.
On the plus side, I’ve sold more than 100 copies. You won’t find it on any bestseller list.
I’m also more than 30,000 words into a sequel I’ve tentatively titled “Grabmore, And More.”
Both novels are based on life inside a fictional media empire. Any resemblance to a real media empire is, er, what’s the word I’m looking for. …
I think that’s the word.
The primary focus of my time is freelancing. That’s how I pay the bills.
Florida Weekly keeps throwing work my way, from spring training preview special sections to hurricane guide stories to blurbs for its Best section to a profile on a Palm Beach County surgeon to features for the Babcock Ranch Telegraph, which is published by Florida Weekly.
For six years Florida Weekly keeps sending me assignments. The editors don’t have to. The Florida landscape is littered with more writers than orange trees.
One can’t shake a mango tree in these parts without a writer or two tumbling out. So to have Florida Weekly keep sending me work is a great honor.
In the past couple of years I’ve also written numerous stories for Times of the Islands, which publishes several magazines. I’ve written about Useppa and a restaurant and Junior ROTC and Thomas Edison and the Edison Sailing Center and on numerous other topics.
I didn’t see any of this happening in 2012.
I also didn’t foresee that Tom Giffen would ask me to write stories for the Roy Hobbs World Series programs, newsletters and website.
Tom, like me, is a refugee from the newspaper world. He is now the president of Roy Hobbs Baseball, which holds its annual four-week World Series here in Fort Myers every fall.
Like Florida Weekly, Tom has plenty of writing choices. He could shake a fungo bat at the cypress trees behind JetBlue Park and a dozen writers looking for work could come screaming out shouting, “Me! Me! Me!”
Yet, year after year, Tom asks me to write stories. I always say yes because I love the work.
How could you not love the work? I hang out at ballparks, talk to people who love baseball and then write stories about them.
Did I say I feel fortunate?
Well, I should say it. And say it often.
Oh, Roy Hobbs Baseball is the place where this trustee thing comes in. It’s not like a prison trustee.
I’m one of the trustees of the Roy Hobbs Hall of Fame. My trustee duties involve vetting candidates for the Roy Hobbs Hall of Fame and writing reports on the candidates.
Sideline reporting is also courtesy of Tom and Roy Hobbs Baseball. At the 2017 Roy World series Tom experimented with televising games on Facebook and streaming them various places.
Tom asked me to be a sideline or dugout reporter, asking players and managers questions before, during and after games.
Tom has asked me to reprise that role in the 2018 Roy Hobbs World Series. The 2017 experiment worked. More games will be televised this year and I will again be prowling dugouts and the Hammond Stadium stands clutching a microphone.
I never saw that coming in 2012.
Oh, what about this president thing, the one where I don’t Tweet like an enraged lunatic leaping into dementia?
After leaving the paper, where I wrote dozens if not hundreds of local history stories, I was asked to join the board of the Southwest Florida Historical Society.
I’ve never served on any board before. Yet, there I was about four years ago the venerable organization’s second vice president.
Now, through a series of events and transitions, I’m now president.
I never predicted that on my many research trips to the society’s research headquarters on the campus of the Lee County Alliance for the Arts.
Now, I’m its president. And I even have a key.
I also sure as heck didn’t predict in 2012 that I would in six years become a preceptor in the Florida Gulf Coast University journalism department.
Preceptor, as I noted above, means teacher. I met every Friday this past semester with students for a class called News Literacy. I’ve been asked back to precept again in the fall.
And then there’s this blog. …
I didn’t think about blogging when I was at the paper or after I left.
But then one day in 2013 my friends Ryan and Carie asked me to meet them at a south Fort Myers Starbucks. Why? They said I should have a blog and Carie, who is some sort of computer whiz, walked me through setting up a blog.
Now, I’m closing in on 350 blog posts and 29,000 page views.
On Monday I have to pick up historical photos and attend a meeting in my role as historical society president. I need to stop by the Florida Weekly offices to drop off paper work.
I have some story ideas to pitch to Florida Weekly editors and I need to get cracking on my next novel and find a publisher.
First, I think I need a nap.