For those of you who wonder sometimes what LinkedIn is good for, I have a cool story bro. I have a LinkedIn page — it’s fairly inactive, like my FaceBook page. I don’t actually GO there, but if someone is connected there I would 1) seem active and 2) be easy to contact if someone wanted to do business. I simply post whatever is new on my blog here automatically to FB, LinkedIn, and my Amazon page. WordPress makes that so easy to do!
So, I used to work with this wonderful editor, way back when, in New Jersey. Stephanie Blanchard was the first editor to hire me when I was home with babies and looking to do some writing in my spare time. Just to keep my brain churning, that sort of thing. So she hired me to cover family outings and events. It was wonderful: Big Apple Circus, train museums, performances and exhibits. My sons and I loved it. Because of her, I was able to cover the speaker series at Drew University back when Gov. Tom Kean was president of the school. That’s how I met Dr. Kissinger and Mrs. Kearns-Goodwin and Mr. Halberstam and so many others. She’s also the reason I won the Society of Professional Journalists First Place for Feature Writing. I didn’t even know she’d submitted that first feature I ever wrote for her. Stephanie’s the reason I was able to string a story into the Wall Street Journal. She’s the reason I met one of the most colorful characters ever to live in Liberty Corner, New Jersey: Mr. Irwin Richardt (may he rest in peace).
She gave me opportunity, with few strings attached, and I never felt so free to be curious and ask questions. I made Henry Kissinger laugh! I felt so alive, to cross paths with these people who shape the times I live in.
Probably my best work, my most literary journalism for her, was a story about the first-ever reunion of men who once lived at the Bonnie Brae home for wayward boys. It was just tremendous. One of the gentlemen who reunited there, George Seymour, converted the article and put it online. I took all the photos in that one, too. It’s one of my few articles from back then that doesn’t have a paywall.
Then I went back to work, after that wonderful period of raising children and accumulating bylines.
The last I’d written for her was, gosh, I wrote about a Jane Goodall speech for a publication called The Animal Companion.
And then the gristmill of teaching kind of chunked me in its gears, and I wasn’t able to continue writing journalistically, timewise.
But I told you this was about LinkedIn, so here it is: I received a message from Stephanie via LinkedIn a month and a half or so ago, about 12-15 years after we last worked together, and Linked-in notified me by an email that I had a message waiting. She has a different last name now, but Stephanie said: We kind of left things off that if I ever needed you I could call. Are you interested in writing a series about The Last Frontier?
So, here are the first publications in our renewed partnership. It was funny, calling her on the phone and talking it seemed like it was just last week we were running ideas past each other. Talking to her made me feel all those years younger, when I was free to be curious and thoughtful while dreaming up and researching the inroads leading to conversations with interesting people.
It’s not easy. Anchorage is five hours behind my native East Coast time, but I’ve found people to be trustful and giving on the telephone. Here’s the good rule about journalism: if you are genuinely interested in people and what they might say, they know it, and will say interesting things. You cannot pass this test without having done your research so that you can ask questions that show understanding. You cannot go through your life with a hammer seeing everything as a nail.
I want to visit Anchorage, very much. The whole state, really. The more I learn about others, by really talking to them and being interested in what they do, the happier I am with humankind. There is no social media more powerful that personal connection, personal conversation that happens in real time.
Here are links to the first features, and another post will come. I didn’t want to fill my blog with wall-to-wall Alaska, because my main purpose, my main passion as a writer these days, is working with language and universal themes by writing literary fiction. This is a non-fiction series, a short hiatus. I hope you enjoy it and if you’ve visited Alaska, Anchorage in particular, feel free to share your love for the place and the people in comments.
Here are links to:
The Alaska Star | “Arts Educators Forge Creative Partnerhips” 11/2/2016
Thanks for stopping by my blog. I’m glad for your company.