In just over a week I’ll be starting a new job. I’ll be moving from being a reporter at the Bangor Daily News to editor of the weekly Machias Valley News Observer. In addition to editing, I will be doing quite a bit of writing.
The Bangor Daily News is an excellent newspaper. They’re very forward thinking with how they use the internet and they strive, pretty successfully, to cover the entire state of Maine. I have much respect for my colleagues there and I’m going to really miss my editor.
The thing is I believe in local news, even what could be called “hyper-local news.” You can get most national and state news anywhere. But real local news can be found only in the local paper. When it’s done right, the editor of the local paper becomes a personality within the community.
I experienced this when I lived in Pennsylvania, where I was editor of three weeklies — The Whitehall-Coplay Press, Northampton Press and Catasauqua Press. In addition to all the duties related to editing, I regularly covered a borough council meeting and wrote stories about many different subjects. I felt a strong connection to my community, especially in Whitehall-Coplay, where I had done most of my writing.
I’ve missed that.
The decision to change jobs wasn’t an easy one, however. I actually started talking to the MVNO back in January about a position that I knew would be not be available until mid to late spring. We left it at “we’ll talk again later.”
In an unrelated move in February, I began sending out queries to literary agents for my memoir. I had no idea how long it would take for me to get a positive response. I know a successful fiction writer from Pennsylvania, Kathryn Kraft, who said it took her about seven years to find an agent. I had no idea what to expect. However, by early March, I had agents asking for proposals and, in May, Maryann Karinch of The Rudy Agency, agreed to take on my project.
I knew I would soon need to make a decision on whether to move to the weekly. But was this the right time to change jobs?
I didn’t really know the answer to that, even when it came time to actually make the decision. So I just blurted out, “My gut tells me to say yes.”
My next thought was, “Oh, my god, what have I done?” I admit I was in tears when I got off the phone after giving notice to my editor at the BDN.
I noticed, however, that as the day wore on, I felt an increasing sense of relief and peace. This told me I made the right decision. And, the new job will be part time, which will give me plenty of time to work on my personal projects. I am looking forward to that.
I’m also looking forward to forging a new relationship with my community here in Maine. For the past week, I’ve been thinking a lot about the new job and I’m excited to start. That’s as it should be. Like they say, love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life.