I’ve been offered a job. The largest group of community newspapers in Ontario is starting a new newspaper, and they’ve asked me to be their opinion columnist.
Metroland Media Group is owned by TorStar, the people behind the Toronto Star. They own 105 community newspapers across Ontario, and publish 4.75 million copies every week.
I was told they found me through my “other” blog where, until last month, I’ve been writing about watching my son grow up, and random stuff about Canada.
Which is what they want me to do. I’m just waiting to find out about the little stuff, like payment and whether I’ll be an employee of the paper, or a freelancer.
The editor I spoke with told me he’s a “fan” of my writing. He used that word more than a few times.
There’s a lot of craziness in this offer. I guess the first bit is, I was just about to give up on having a career in newspapers again. I’ve been out of work, and concentrating on my recovery, since 2002-ish. Working as a reporter is mostly about contacts. And the longer you’re outside the field, the fewer contacts you have.
I’ve done some work for the local paper over the past five or six years, but being a reporter in this region means being bilingual. I can order a hotdog and beer in French, but there’s really no need for that more than once in an interview.
I am ready to go back to work, at least part time. But the list of things non-reporting that I’m qualified for comes down to prostitution and door jam. So I was getting quite depressed wondering how I was supposed to support a family.
And then I got a call from a “fan”. But the idea of going from scratch to opinion columnist in a month is a lot scarier than I thought it’d be.
The second bit is I gave up an opportunity in 1999 to write a technology column for the Toronto Star, to stick with the magazine I was at because there was a guaranteed paycheque.
And third, but most significant, I’ll be writing for a newspaper in a city which has been home base for my family for roughly 100-years.
My grandfather and his brothers grew up there, their father worked in the rail yard for his entire life. My mother’s godparents still live there.
It feels like some kind of circle being completed. Or something.
They’re not asking me to move there, the columns they want will be about “Canada” and “Ontario” stuff, so I can write those from anywhere. Moving there next year, however, might be a possibility… but that’s something my girlfriend would have to agree to first.
I spoke to the editor on Monday, and we’ve been communicating via email since last Friday, but I’m still a little suspicious about the offer. I think it’s mostly stemming from doubting my own ability to write a serious column on a serious deadline again.
I can barely update the blog they’ve been reading. So why would they take a shot based on a blog that’s updated so infrequently it has actually lost two “Page Rank” points in eight months.
The last, and only other time, I wrote a serious column on a serious deadline I won an award from the Ontario Community Newspaper Association. But I treated those deadlines like a meth addict would treat the posted speed limit.
I finished writing most of my columns after they had been laid out on the page. Coincidentally I also drove my editors into serious meth addictions. But that pretty much sums up my entire newspaper and magazine career, columnist or reporter.
It’ll be pretty cool if this opinion columnist thing works out… suddenly there’s new hope.
The photo was taken around 5am. I woke up thirsty, and was standing at the fridge when I noticed the sky was an incredible purple-pink-orange. It’s mostly due to a heat wave we had for about two weeks.
Temperatures got up to 46C (108F) during the day, and stayed in the mid-20’s overnight. The humidity made walking feel like drowning. The good news, however, was we got sunrises like this one.
That was pretty much it for the good news until the heat wave blew away.
Congratulations on the offer. I really hope it works out, and even if it doesn’t, it’s still progress right?
Hope Victor and Girlfriend are well xx
Go baby Go! Good for you!!
FANTASTIC! You’ll be great!
This is fantastic!!!! You must do this! You can handle this.
Gabriel.. on this one I’m gonna have to say.. what have you got to lose? You can handle this in spades.. you have tons to write about.. and when you’re with your son and girlfriend at the end of the day, I can guarantee you’ll find more and more material that’s “worthy” of people knowing is funny, incredible, or just plain awesome that people should know about. Plus, sometimes, letting people know how cool your little family is CAN be fun (sometimes it makes you wonder if it’s normal, but it’s a relative term). I tried blogging about my family, at least one thing for a year, and going back and reading it? It’s pretty cool 🙂 good luck hon!
RE “what have you got to lose?” If I take on too much work or too much stress, it might unbalance my current stability. I have to know when to say “no” (its too much) and be able to say “no” to both friend and enemy. Its harder to say no to a friend.
Dont look a gift horse in the mouth. Looking for you? It is usually the other way around.
I have a huge fear of starting any new projects and for me it’s about taking one small step..Otherwise I freeze up. I don’t know if you have the same anxiety about new projects, but it can’t hurt to write trial columns just for yourself first before agreeing right away and perhaps letting your employers know when you “might” want to start writing for them…Give yourself a few months or however long you need. Allow yourself to write as many “trial” columns as you want and not pressuring yourself to get them perfect or having to measure up and just testing out the waters for yourself first. It’s totally understandable your doubts and nervousness…Take it slowly.
awesomesauce. That is all 😀
congratulations, will look forward to your byline!
Gabriel! This is going to sound weird, but I just had a dream that we chatted about your job over a scoop of ice cream. I don’t know what that means, but maybe it’s a sign that you need to have some ice cream today.
Wow, people throwing job offers at you. What’s not to love about that!
(Loved your remark about driving your editors to meth. Would have been nice to work with people who appreciated my forbearance, back when I still had some.)
That’s great! You’ll never know until you give it a try, so go for it!
Congratulations Gabriel. I love your writing too and think you will be great.
Hi. Thanks to all of you for the support, I have accepted the offer and my first deadline is in September. I think my first column will be about the water quality issue on most Canadian reserves… [spoiler: the water is mostly brown]. I haven’t been forced to write to a word count in ten years, and I’ll have a hard cap of 600 words. Now I just have to find a voice, and a tone. Will I be “angry guy”, “weary dude”, or “funny man”?
Writing a column is a lot like blogging… you can write about whatever you want, but if you write about the Russian mob for a year, you’ll lose most of your audience when you switch to manga. And it’s hard to prove your knowledge of Japanese comics to the people who know about them, because everyone still sees you as the “mob guy”.
So… they want me to write like I have been on my blog about Canada and my son. This will be interesting. I think my first column will be published on September 13… which means I have until the late evening of September 12 to figure this all out.