If I’ve been scarce lately, there’s a good reason. Not to count my chickens before they hatch, but I just sent to press the final 14 page section for 2022 “Progress edition.”

My former managing editor left the job at the end of January, leaving it up to me as the publisher to lay out 98 extra broadsheet pages from 11 sections, 120 magazine pages and nine regular newspaper editions. I don’t know what the math totals up to — and frankly, I am too exhausted to do math right now, or ever, really — but suffice to say that I have been working about 90 hours a week just to do the editor’s job and mine as publisher. Lots of going in at 8 a.m. and heading home at about 9 p.m.-ish nearly every single day since early February. All while dealing with some silly drama manufactured by someone in my personal life and fighting a nasty hacking cough that left me feeling like my obituary might get typed up before it all ended.

But dammit, I have survived! 

There were some who didn’t believe in me, who expected me to crumble. Sorry (not sorry) to disappoint them. My parents instilled in me a relentless work ethic and while I might be outsmarted here and there, nobody is going to outWORK me!

Now, I don’t want to take complete credit for all of it because that would make me a jerk. I have three writers contributing roughly a story each for those nine sections and some of those pages were full-page or half-page ads. Thank God! My advertising crew has turned out to be a dream team, surpassing our original goal, which is pretty critical to meeting my annual revenue goals.

Further complicating things, we also ran smack-dab into the Press Association’s annual newspaper, advertising and magazine contests and had to drop everything to pull those submissions together. We did some quality work last year and I hope it pays off with lots of awards again this summer.

I feel a little bad that I have neglected some of my friends and family throughout this process, but only because I had all I could handle on my plate. Complicating matters, one of my staff writers also got ill and one of the contributors I was counting on was out of commission with a serious illness while another declined to do the stories she had earlier indicated she would handle, only telling me this after I checked to make sure and then had to make adjustments to take those on myself. I deeply appreciate the ones who did follow through on assignments because this literally would not have been possible without their stories.

I feel bad that this is my first blog entry since Nov. 15, which now feels like a year ago with everything that has changed in the world. But the stuff I get paid to write takes priority to this ‘lil exercise in self-indulgence.

These Progress editions are an annual thing every late winter/early spring, and I’ve done about a dozen of them in the past. They are grueling to produce, even with a full staff. ¬†Each issue of the magazine also involves many hours of story gathering, page layout, proofing, etc. The bridal edition came out earlier in March and the April issue featuring Hall of Fame inductees will be published in Saturday’s edition.

Considering all that we had to contend with on producing this one, I am damn proud that we maintained a high level of quality instead of just throwing some crap together. The advertisers who support us and the readers who subscribe to our newspaper deserve nothing less than our best effort, always!

Sorry to take this self-indulgent moment to pat myself on the back, but yeah, I am a bad ass. I got some help from chugging this Neuriva Brain + Energy 12 pack shots. And no, that isn’t a paid endorsement. I was skeptical, but desperate so I tried it. I’m sure there were days when I can directly attribute my second wind to that little bottle of coffee fruit extract, vitamin B12 and caffeine. Which is really saying something since I take a prescription for mild narcolepsy.

Now my attention turns to all of the things I haven’t had time to do over the last 45 days, the top priority of which is finding a new managing editor to assist me with all of this so that next year is not a repeat. The search has been on since late January and I’ve done several interviews I honestly did not have time to do, deciding that none of them were an ideal match for the quality and experience we want. It’s a position that’s hard to staff with just anyone off the street. Sure, I can train someone, but not while simultaneously juggling all of those deadlines. Not getting results I needed made the process an unhelpful distraction, but I was able to use one of them to replace my classified advertising manager who is leaving us at the end of the month.

I encourage anyone who has writing, editing or design experience to contact me if they are interested in learning more about the managing editor’s position. We’ve held out this long for someone really good, no sense in hiring someone who I’ll still have to do most of the work for.

My t0-do list includes organizing a political forum for primary candidates next month, finalizing our list of DeKalb’s Top 20 Leaders and preparing to produce yet a third magazine in less than two months. At least I (hopefully) have some breathing room without deadlines seemingly piled on top of one another.

I also want to get out with my camera and do some photography since I haven’t had time to do anything except put pages together as fast as possible since mid-February. This all cost me a personal relationship that crumbled due to my friend presuming that I wasn’t interested in being more than friends due to working all of the time. That’s a real shame. It would have been interesting to see where that went.

This past weekend was my birthday. Aside from taking my daughter to the mall, I mostly slept through it. I kept falling asleep behind the wheel driving us back from Gadsden and she kept poking me to wake me up. I was seriously exhausted. I was a zombie on Friday, having worked until 2 a.m. the night before so we could send a section early to the printers. And on top of everything, I covered sentencing in a capital murder trial.

I want to set up some photo shoots for the near future, realizing how difficult they’ve become to schedule in advance and presuming that surely I’ll be in a position to hire an editor very soon. I always need models and story ideas for the newspaper and magazine, so if you’re reading this, feel free to comment or contact me. I also want to get out and do some new photography for the souvenir shop my sister runs, Mountain Town Mercantile.

I hope everyone enjoys the Progress edition and the magazines. A lot of very hard work and personal sacrifice went into producing them.