Call it a comeback


Ten years ago this week, I started a new job at my hometown newspaper.

Ten months ago, I lost that job when the newspaper folded and I started writing a news/essay blog called Wade on Birmingham.

Today, I started a dream job at a publication in town. I never thought writing on my humble site(s) would lead to anything like this.

I am truly blessed.

I wasn’t despondent over losing my job or seeing an institution shut its doors. My concern for my colleagues, especially those who needed work sooner rather than later.

The days stretched before me with possibility. No agenda, no hurry. I could coast for a while.

To keep my writing in shape, I began with a simple daily assignment. Write about Birmingham, write about things I thought would be important or newsworthy or fun.

(By the way, this isn’t leading to a farewell or anything, or blog suicide. I like writing, on and off the clock.)

I invested my energy, my creativity and my ideas into my site. I wanted it to stand out and to be proud of my work — or at least, improve as I went along.

It gave me confidence. I realized that I had held back a little something before in not fully investing myself in developing my style. I could do this, and do it consistently, and not become bored or worn out.

The ideas struck for bigger and better, things I could write for publication in the near future. This is what I had wanted for a long, long time.

Not only did I learn more about writing, I learned more about running a site and networking online and off. I rediscovered how much I like being plugged in to current events and cultural trends around town. Even in a newsroom, you sometimes lose touch.

So I’m back on the job, ready to write, travel and work on New Media. It has echoes of my old jobs, right down to the people with whom I work.

I owe my good fortune to two factors. The first factor was taking a chance on writing and blogging. Maybe you’ve heard of being Dooced — well, I’m happy to say that I was re-Dooced, or maybe un-Dooced (reverse Dooced?).

My new bosses said I have the chops based on my fairly long and diverse career in journalism, but what caught their eye was my trove of online dispatches. That’s not only flattering, but also lucrative, by my standards, anyway.

I made blogging pay. How sweet is that?

The second factor was humbling. I stand on the shoulders of generous people.

For example, if not for Dru, who first brought me in to interview with key people, I wouldn’t have gotten the call. She went out of her way a year and a half ago to make sure I had facetime with those who would decide my fate. And she did it in her last week there, before moving on to another organization.

If not for Mike, who mentioned my name at an opportune time, I wouldn’t have had the doors flung wide open this past month. Knock long enough, and they might just let you in.

Many, many others helped in ways big and small along the way. They should all realize how much I appreciate their aid.

Even the unlikely saga of a blues singer with a crazy dream played a huge role. If not for Taylor Hicks, I wouldn’t have received readers across the country hungry for tidbits on the Birmingham phenom. Certainly, I had no idea he’d be anointed as another hometown American Idol — or that I’d end up writing nearly 30 stories during a four-month period chronicling his rise to the top.

The Soul Patrol not only helped its man win, it helped elevate my profile in the blogosphere.

Crazy, no?

It’s all a little nutty, me writing for another publication, seeing different places to chronicle in print and online. I can hardly believe it.

And it’s surreal. I once had dreams, and strangely enough, they all came true. I thought I had run out of them, but it turns out, I have a few more to fulfill.


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