A Change is Gonna Come

Bill's Photo
Recent Photo by the great Bill Foster at Bill Foster Photography

I don’t usually get too personal on this blog – it’s never been a confessional sort of space, but today I have to make an exception as the personal in this case will very directly impact the public side of my ventures.

It’s a cliche that we make plans only to find that life takes an entirely different direction. We think we want to work a particular career and somehow we get sidetracked. We think we have the perfect mate selected, only to find someone else. I got very lucky on that last part, my wife has been an amazing support to me as I’ve written this blog, but the point is the list goes on.

Recently Urban Girl declared that she wanted to be a reindeer when she grows up and after helping Santa deliver the presents she would switch back to being a girl and she’d ride in his sleigh. She may change her mind.

For me, the earliest career aspiration I can remember was to be a “dirty old working man.” When forced to be more specific I declared an ambition to become a garbage man. It was logical for a four-year-old: How much cooler could it get than to ride on the back of a garbage truck, get dirty and be paid for it?

Years passed and I wanted a career in the oil field, then the navy. None of that ever happened. By high school I wanted to be a rock star, though a decided lack of talent would thwart those ambitions.

And then I decided I wanted to be a writer. Sure, I got degrees in other fields, but writing was always close in my thoughts. I tried poetry, novels, short stories. All the while, I worked a career and wrote part time.

Then came this blog and web site. My motivations for choosing this specific topic have been covered elsewhere. (Check the “about” section). I hoped it might help in some fashion. It grew well beyond what I could have ever anticipated. Currently Inside of Knoxville receives between 25,000 and 30,000 pageviews each month. It just won “Best Blog,” thanks to many of you, for the second consecutive year in the Metro Pulse Readers Poll. While I’d never imagined my forum would be a blog, it has proven to be, by far, my most successful outlet as a writer.

A year or so ago I realized something had to give. As the blog grew in popularity and readership, the demands increased. Missing  a day of posting seemed unthinkable. Missing coverage on an important downtown event seemed disastrous. But I still had a full-time job. What could I do? I knew that continuing both a full-time job and the blog were mutually exclusive. I decided to do both for one more year and then make a break. During the past year I’ve averaged about 4 1/2 hours of sleep a night while trying to maintain both jobs.

So, I’ve made a decision and today is the day I make the change. It still seems a bit overwhelming to me to consider what I’ve done. I’m filled with joy at the prospect, but also I’m not without anxiety. But the decision is made: I’ve left my career in order to work on Inside of Knoxville on a full-time basis.

So what will happen next? Honestly, you might not see much of a change initially. I’ve traditionally backed off a little during the summer, taking random days off as I travel and spend time with family and I’ll likely do some of that this summer. I don’t have any major change in direction to announce immediately and don’t foresee any in the short term.

But it will mean changes. While offline, it means I’ll have time to improve my photography classes and to study urban planning, tourism, transportation, architecture and other issues I cover for this blog. These pursuits should make my presentation of information a richer experience for everyone. I’ve learned a great amount on all these fronts, but I’m really just starting.

One of the changes that, hopefully, will be apparent in very short order is that I’ll be able to proof-read what I write. It’s ironic that among my readers I can’t really count myself. I write it, generally finishing after midnight and hit “publish” so I can stumble up to bed. A once-over after the writing can only help.

One of the largest changes, which will both make my job easier and should provide for a higher quality product, will be the fact that I’ll actually be downtown all-day, everyday. I’ve commuted out of downtown every morning at 6:20 AM since I started writing the blog, returning to the city sometime between 4:00 and 5:00 PM, or later, each day. It’s hard to cover events that happen during the day if I’m not here. Now I’ll be around.

Finally, I’ll be seeking new partnerships and projects. I hope to find additional advertisers interested in both spreading the word about their business, as well as supporting what I do for downtown through this blog. I’m expecting new ventures and opportunities to present themselves, some of which may be obvious on the blog and some of which may be more behind-the-scenes. That’s started happening already. If you are interested in advertising or have another idea about how we might work together, let me know.

So, I’m excited at this new phase of my life and I’m excited about what comes next for my little venture. We live in a great time in the history of downtown Knoxville. I hope to be able to do more to help in my small way as we go forward.