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On to the Next Chapter

If you’ve ever ridden in my car or listened to my running playlist, you know I’m quite fond of Green Day’s song titled, “Good Riddance (Time of your Life).” As a writer, I listen carefully to lyrics of songs and dissect the messages word by word. This song’s words are particularly poignant to me.

“Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road, Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go.

So make the best of this and don’t ask why, It’s not a question, but a lesson learned in time.”

My mind drifts back five years. As my husband and I prepared to go on a very long overdue vacation to Northern California, I received an email asking me if I’d consider being the editor and graphic designer of a small regional magazine. The current editor had announced he was stepping down from the helm to run The Best of the North Georgia Mountains publication, and the magazine’s management was looking for a replacement. I was interested, but at the same time, I was a little apprehensive. Nevertheless, I took that fork in the road and gave it a shot. It was part-time work, and so I added it to my other part-time positions, all of which make for more than a 50 hour work week most of the time.

I met and worked with a new cast of characters — some I instantly adored, and some I didn’t like much at all. Nevertheless, over the years, many became dear friends rather than mere coworkers.

As editor, I fielded phone calls and emails that usually started, “You should write about this in your magazine.” Through my own personal tip line, I learned about so many interesting people in our community, local history that needed to be revisited, organizations with important missions, and events worthy of the spotlight. I almost never had to go looking for stories. Somehow, the stories managed to find me.

I recruited a bunch of local writers to help me fill each issue. An advertising executive sold ads for each issue. A nearby company did the professional printing. I was the point person and got the magazine across the finish line each and every issue. Working together, we produced magazines that brought great pride to our community.

As designer, I made each issue look pretty and made sure that the advertisements were all accounted for and in prominent spots throughout the magazine. It tapped into my creative side, and I enjoyed laying out the issues.

But if I said that every minute of my time at the helm of the magazine was sunshine, rainbows, and butterflies, I’d be lying. I juggled hate mail and complaint calls a few times when readers didn’t like a topic we covered or continued from page

someone challenged the factual content of a story we published on our pages. I don’t like confrontation and dealing with angry folks, and those letters and calls were hard to handle. Somehow I pushed through and didn’t make too many enemies along the way.

Sometimes a writer would leave me hanging high and dry and not turn in a story that had been assigned to him or her. It was my responsibility to find something to fill the hole in the issue, and more than once, I had to pull an all-nighter to get the job done by my deadline, and let me say that staying up all night long is not for the overfifty crowd. It damn near killed me.

Earlier this year, I resigned to free up more time for three special projects that have been on my to-do list for a long time. First, I’m producing a story-driven podcast I plan to call “Georgia Girl.” The second project is a bit more complex — a mobile app that will combine storytelling and technology. I plan to roll this one out in 2021. And finally, I plan to get back to work on a novel I started two years ago.

Even though I gave my notice to the magazine’s management, I stayed on for four more months because COVID-19 prevented them from interviewing and hiring a replacement for me after I told them I was leaving. Finally, in August, I passed the baton to a dear friend of mine and promised to help her with her first issue or two. I wish her the best of luck.

Back to that Green Day song, the chorus repeats: “It’s something unpredictable, but in the end it’s right, I hope you had the time of your life.”

Yes, the editor’s job was different for me and had its challenges, but I learned so much, made new friends, and developed a new skill set. I had the time of my life, but I’m really looking forward to the next chapter in “The Book of Amber.” I hope it’s a good one.

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