I like to write. For me, it is a labor of love.
Writing takes time. It’s not physical labor, but it can be just as exhausting.
To report an accurate story, concentration and absorbing details and the setting are essential. Even more difficult is deciphering my scraggly handwriting afterwards. Trying to properly tell the story in an assigned number of words against a deadline adds to the creative challenge.
The good people of many of the events and stories I chronicle don’t necessarily crave the publicity. But they do appreciate the consideration, especially when they have put so much effort into their own work or hobby or community service. Those are stories worth telling.
Of course, when I write about my family, all bets are off. So far, though, I haven’t been barred from any family gatherings.
For the longest time, I thought everyone could write. I eventually discovered that most people don’t have my passion for writing.
I’m not bragging. I have much to learn in the writing field. In fact, I strive to improve my style, approach and content. This spring I attended three very different writing workshops in the space of six weeks. I was bombarded with helpful and practical information. The poets, columnists, scriptwriters and authors offered invaluable personal and professional tips.
The Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop held at the University of Dayton was incredible. Perhaps that’s because a huge majority of the hundreds of participants were women. They didn’t hold anything back, and we didn’t lack for laughter or levity. It truly was inspirational.
I realize I have several people to thank for teaching and encouraging me in my writing. Some were high school and college teachers. Most, like Hymie Williams, were practitioners.
Hymie was a sports writer for the Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio. He and two news reporters anchored the paper’s Canton bureau. Out of the blue, Hymie called me one day to ask if I would be willing to fill in for him while he was on vacation. I was 16 years old then. Of course I jumped at the chance.
I had been sending Hymie and other local papers summaries of the Stark County Hot Stove League baseball games. Coaches called in the scores to our home since my father was the league’s secretary. I usually answered the phone and quizzed the callers for any significant details about the games.
I wrote up the results and next day looked for the story in the newspaper. I was heartened to see that the articles were consistently published with only minor changes.
I enjoyed my little stint as a sports reporter, especially since it was at the start of the high school football season. I had lots on which to report.
This opportunity heavily influenced my choice of a college major. I graduated with a degree in journalism, but quickly made a left-hand turn for a 30-year career in public education. When I retired, a newspaper came calling and the ink in my veins started flowing once again.
It is an honor and a privilege to be able to write a weekly newspaper column, this blog and other feature stories that shine the spotlight on deserving subjects. Their stories are refreshing, especially given all the negative news that dominates the national media. I enjoy sharing my photographs, too. But that’s a story for another time.
My goal is to continue spreading as much good news as I can, and there is still plenty to tell. After all, writing is my labor of love.
— Bruce Stambaugh
Bruce Stambaugh pens the blog, Roadkill Crossing, and other tales from Amish Country. His weekly column appears in The Holmes Bargain Hunter in Millersburg, Ohio.