Monday, October 26, 2009

Andy’s Desk: Improved blog keeps people connected to Adirondack writers

Welcome back to the Adirondack Writer blog, which I launched in 2007 and discontinued briefly from spring 2009 until the re-launch on Oct. 21, 2009. I hope to make this site a place for all people – readers and writers – to stay connected to professional writers in the Adirondack North Country region of New York state. When I say writers, I mean published authors and poets, journalists, columnists, professional bloggers, storytellers and musicians. You’ll find some photographers in there as well because some of them are also writers and/or have published books.

Fact is, when newspapers began dropping my “Adirondack Attic” column in the fall of 2008 and then in the spring of 2009, I had a lot of soul-searching to do, as a writer, and I had to figure out how to continue writing and continue to get paid for my work.

So I discontinued my column and began working with the Adirondack Museum, singer/songwriter Dan Berggren and North Country Public Radio to develop an “Adirondack Attic” radio series to begin in January 2010. We’re still working on the pilot. I had been writing the weekly column for several northern New York newspapers for more than six years. It had become so much a part of me, writing stories nonstop every week since 2003 (more than 300 in all), that simply shutting it off was both a relief and a crisis of the soul. Who was I without the column? Well, after thinking about it, I wasn’t going to give up the storytelling; I was only changing the media (going back to my roots in public radio). And, after all, I had collected those columns in five books, a series called “New York State’s Mountain Heritage: Adirondack Attic,” with a sixth book ready to be printed in the spring of 2010. I had essentially written six books in six years.

I finally realized that without the column, I am still an author and publisher. I am still an Adirondack writer. I go to most of the author fairs in the region and see many of my author friends every summer (at Hoss’s Country Corner, the Adirondack Reader, etc.). I sign books at bookstores and stay connected with readers at lectures throughout the region on the Adirondack lecture circuit during my summer/fall book tour every year. And I still get paid for my work.

There is a community of professional writers in the Adirondack region, with different genres, styles and employers (many are retired, some have day jobs, and some are full-time freelancers). Yet there isn’t one place on the Internet that people can stay connected to them, as a whole. I wanted to create such a web site, one that gives updates on Adirondack writers – bios, accomplishments, features, news, etc. I envision it as being a way for writers to promote themselves and their work; a place for readers to get informed about the writing community; a place for writers to learn about other writers; and a place for writers to learn about professional development and special event opportunities. This is the new vision for the new Adirondack Writer blog.

At the same time, the subtitle of this blog is “Adirondack literature from a writer’s perspective.” That writer will be me at many times, yet it will include posts from other writers from time to time. I’ll give an update on my career once a week. Plus, I’ll post Writer News, Special Events, Book Reviews, Industry News, Professional Development news, Writer Spotlights, Publisher Spotlights, Performer’s Corner (musicians and storytellers), and “Adirondack Attic” stories from my archives.

This has been a year of reinventing myself, partly because of the changes in my Adirondack Attic History Project but mainly because I left my public relations job at the NYS Adirondack Park Agency Visitor Interpretive Center in Paul Smiths in June 2009. I decided to take the plunge and write/publish full time. I currently operate my company, Hungry Bear Publishing, with my wife, Dawn, who left her banking job a year ago. Hungry Bear Publishing is the home of the “Adirondack Attic” book series and the Meet the Town community guide series. So Dawn and I have taken the plunge together, holding hands like Thelma and Louise, driving off a cliff and looking for something better in the next life. I hope we find it.

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