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.


  1. Bonny Pendleton says

    Congratulations. It take courage to go for your dreams. Best of luck in your new full time writing career!

  2. Wow, that’s fantastic! And I’m sure a little scary. You’ll do great, we’re all rooting for you. Here’s to the future!

  3. Congratulations! How exciting! I dont live in Knoxville, or Tennessee for that matter, but visit often, and plan to retire there soon.. Your blog is my prime source for information on what’ll be going on when I’m visiting. As well as important information I’ll need to know when I finally do transplant. Keep up the good work! BEST blog in Knoxville!

  4. Whew! So glad the decision was made in OUR favor! For a minute there you had me worried.

    • Old Buckeye says

      EV, I laughed when I came back to check comments later. Evidently your comment was awaiting moderation when I submitted mine! 🙂

  5. Old Buckeye says

    Whew, you had me worried with your intro! Thought you were going to say you were quitting the blog! Glad you are able to pursue your dream. All the best to you!

    • LOL, Old Buckeye! Hey, I love this blogger…he is bloody brilliant and is one of the reasons I have stuck around this burg. I would vote for him for any public office if he would just run.

  6. Congratulations!!! I love and appreciate what you do for Knoxville!

  7. Woot! Welcome to the no-commute revolution.

  8. Chris Eaker says

    I have to say I was a bit worried as I started reading this article that you were going to say you’ve decided to shut down Inside of Knoxville. I would definitely understand if you decided to do that, but I’m glad you have decided to give it your undivided attention. It will definitely grow into something even greater than it already is.

    If you need some help editing, I’d be happy to be a proofreader. Also, have you considered offering more guest posts? It would give you a break every now and then. I’m sure there are people who would love to write an article or two. Continue to let us know how we can support you in this, besides just being a reader.

  9. Laura Allen says

    Congratulations! It is always a little scary when you go out on your own. When I started my own business someone told me “Leap and the net will appear”. And they were right, but taking the leap was the hard part, but you have done it. I know you will do well.

  10. tthurman says

    I made a career leap nearly 15 years ago, it was a scary time, but probably was the best decision I ever made.

    Congrats on your decision to pursue something you love doing, and do so well!

  11. Congrats and good luck!

  12. Congratulations! Excited for the future!

  13. happy for you man. thanks for doing this.

  14. Annette Winston says

    Do what you love; the money will follow. What a happy choice.

  15. Nina Phalen says

    This is exciting news, Congratulations!

  16. As one who has been with you in your career for several years, I’ll miss you. But I do look forward to continuing to read your blog every morning while I eat breakfast. It has helped me learn about many places and activities in Knoxville that I didn’t know of and start to enjoy a section of the city that I didn’t frequent often. Best of luck.

  17. Julienne says

    Outstanding! You’re following what you want to do with conviction. I’ve been following your blog and it’s pretty much the only comprehensive site I know for what’s going on downtown so kudos for the leap! And Congrats on the “Best Blog” Vote which it so deserves!

  18. Congrats! Going out on my own was the most terrifying thing I’ve ever done, yet it is also consistently the most rewarding. Best of luck!

  19. Carol Myers says

    I, too, was worried as I started to read this post. Now that my fears are unfounded, congrats! It is a marvelous thing you do, and I know you are going to be so happy following your dream.

  20. Jim Corn says

    Congratulations and I wish you the Best as you pursue your dreams. Looking forward to the future.

  21. Very happy for you! I know the struggle all to well and it is nice to see someone going after their dreams!!! Congratulations!

  22. Yay! I’m super happy for you! And it’s awesome you won’t have to worry about a commute anymore.

  23. I wish you the best of luck & look forward to reading your continued adventures.

  24. Congratulations and best of luck to you!

  25. Well, now you can join that elite fraternity of all the male strippers that have retired before you. Rest those weary hips, UrbanGuy.

  26. That’s great! Congratulations on having the ability to do what you do with this blog so well and the courage to follow your convictions. It’s clear you have a lot of support in the downtown community and even beyond. I look forward to following you and your blog for years to come.

  27. Congratulations! You have so much talent and interest in downtown Knoxville. We’re lucky to have working full time on sharing the good news about what’s happening!

  28. Bill Lyons says

    Congratulations Urban Guy and urban neighbor. I always look forward to reading your blog.

  29. This is fantastic news! The free time will give you time to explore the other fantastic parts of Knoxville that aren’t downtown. Also, I know a bar that would be interested in advertising 🙂

  30. Mike Cohen says

    Brave. Sincere wishes for success.

  31. Mike Cohen says

    Bold and brave. Sincere wishes for success.

  32. Congratulations, Urban Guy. We’ve been extremely lucky to have had you in your previous capacity for so long– so many people, young and old, have been touched in a positive way by your time and talents. Luckily for all of us, a whole new passel of folk stand to benefit from your new endeavor.

  33. KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

    I’m pretty overwhelmed at this response. When I decided to write this post, I figured no one would read. You’ve all been very kind and I wish I could respond to each comment, but just let me say, “Thank you.” You guys make this worth doing. I hope I can live up to your wonderful comments.

  34. Well as someone sorta connected to the chapter you are closing since you and my husband have worked together for many, many years; don’t minimize the impact of your mentoring and guidance to so many young minds during your career. Several of those youngsters are now active writers themselves. So good job, faithful servant…..and continued blessings to you and Urban Wife in the next chapter. (maybe when my hubby retires soon, I can talk him into finally moving downtown!).

  35. I missed commenting yesterday due to a minor catastrophe, but I’m glad it turned out the way it did. I must admit had a bit of reading apnea until I got to the resolution. Congratulations and good luck.

  36. Congratulations! So happy for you!

  37. David E. says

    Congrats and thank you for keeping us all informed and entertained!

  38. WHOA! big congrats are in order! love this blog and glad it’s going to the next step!

  39. M. Janice Mitchell says

    Whew! I was holding my breath and almost passed out when I thought the answer was “giving up my blog.” I LOVE reading what you have to say about the happenings in downtown. I plan many of my excursions based on what you know is going on in the area. Love the pictures. When I read your articles and see the photos of an event I attended, I get to re-live it all over again. I look forward to your blogs about daytime events, too. Congratulations on going for your passion.

  40. Tinah and her dog crew APPROVE!!! as a fellow photog, i get it…FOLLOW YOUR PASSION…mine is kids N dogs (i think u know) my dog network keeps me pretty busy but maybe we can partner together to teach more underprivileged kids photography??!! I find when I give back to my community…I get back 🙂 tiz tru!

  41. That is the best news ever! I am SO thrilled for you. To show my support I am going to contact you about taking out an ad for my Dreamseeker’s Daughter book! You are one of Knoxville’s most important reporters and what you have done with this blog is amazing! YAY for you, Urban Guy! It takes guts, but you will thrive! This could not happen to a nicer guy.

  42. This is a big step. I’m sure it’s scary, but I’m confident you’ll succeed. Let me know if there’s any way I can help. Congratulations, Alan!

  43. Well, it has been more than a year since you wrestled with your options, and I just want to remind you how happy I am with your decision, and I hope you are too.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says

      I cannot imagine being happier with a decision. The opportunities I’ve had since writing that article have been amazing. And it is reflected in readership: In the article I mentioned 25K to 30K page views each month and now, sixteen months later, I will set a new record this month of right around 80K. Thanks to all of the readers who have spread the word.

  44. Woohoo! And Congrats!

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