Just when I thought my life was perfectly full, I take on something really big. It wasn’t my idea – well, of course it was – but somehow I had made the decision without telling myself. I realized this when I woke up at 4 am and started writing notes on how I was going to run the local community newspaper.
Being Editor of The Camptonville Courier was never, ever on my retirement radar. Five months ago the last volunteer Editor left, and though people in our small town said how much they missed the monthly “community voice,” no one has come forward to take it on. Certainly not me! I’m a writer. That doesn’t mean I know publishing or want those responsibilities to take over my life.
Yet, something’s right. Here I am, one month after that fateful night, and loving what’s happening. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, I feel supported and delightfully challenged by all I’m learning about running a newspaper. More importantly, I have a crew of twelve community volunteers who are helping by taking on pieces of the work.
What cinched it for me is this is one thing I can do for my community. I’ve often grappled with what is right action, considering all the suffering and planetary deterioration around us. Not surprising, Christie, the present-time character in the novel I’m working on, grapples with the same question. She knows that by the end of the century, her future great-granddaughter Amisha will be grappling with the impact of the actions we do/don’t do today. Here’s a draft excerpt from The Desk: (Note: “The Desk” was the former working title for “Heart Wood” before 2020, and “Christie” is now “Harmony)
“It seems no matter what route I take, I always end up wallowing in the same pool. Signs are everywhere. My humming laptop has already collected the morning’s emails – Outrage! Warning! Take Action! Thank god lots of people are working hard for causes, yet I sit here paralyzed by despair. I’m not a hero. I’m just me, living my life with right intentions as best I can, yet sensing there’s a huge tsunami coming toward us.
I go downstairs and refill my coffee cup. On the way back up, I rationalize that in small ways I am doing something. I grow my food, reuse cloth shopping bags, frequent farmer’s markets, and shop locally before checking Amazon. I’m a poster child for “One Hundred Ways to Save the Planet.”
Seated at the desk, my new fountain pen is poised in my hand, ready to write. I’m in love with it. Compared to a ball point, the ink flows almost as fast as my thoughts.
Amisha taps me on the shoulder.
“For what?” I ask, startled at her voice in my head.
“For water. The hand pump still works.”
“Oh that!” I laugh softly. My husband wanted a fancy solar pump and back-up system, but I told him I wanted simple. Too much high-tech stuff makes me feel helpless.
“You planted fruit and nut trees,” she continues.
“It’s what we back-to-the-landers did.”
“But they lasted. Even without anyone’s care.”
“So the drought-tolerant ones really were?” I’m impressed.
“I couldn’t have survived without them.”
I shift in my seat, feeling uneasy. “But it wasn’t enough, was it?”
“No, it wasn’t.” Her voice is cold and dry inside my head. I cover my eyes, despair drawing me down like quicksand.
© All materials copyright Shirley DicKard, 2014, except as otherwise noted.
Another winner! Each one makes me want more. Joy, from a fountain pen. Now an editor! Will your talents never cease?? We’re sooo proud of you. When you have a minute,(I don’t expect it soon) mail us a copy of” The Camptonville Courier’
First edition comes out 1st week in Feb. I’ll get you a copy.
“despair drawing me down like quicksand” That snippet is a gem. Thanks for writing and more for sharing. So looking forward to the book; patiently we wait! I know now your words will open hearts and minds. Well placed sentiments for these times. Like the hand pump … those words will come in handy down the road.
Your words melt my heart and keep me going. Thanks!
Thanks so much for taking on The Courier, Shirley! I’m always available for proofreading, if you need me.
Thanks Janie. Good to know you have these skills. Give me a few months to get it all under my belt.
You deeply touched the great fear I have been carrying, especially this past month. Thanks for taking on the Courier, and grateful for you to have such a big team. That should really help!
Yes, that’s the only way I’d consider doing this – with a team. Thanks for your support.