There’s writers, and then there’s Detroit writers

Detroit writers

Been in Detroit 21 years.

Looking back, it’s been like I’ve lived at least three lives here, maybe more. When I moved here from Fort Lauderdale in January of 1993 to join the editorial page staff of the Detroit Free Press (going from 70 degrees to 7),  I was the outsider looking in and deciding how to make Detroit a good fit. Or how to make myself a good fit for Detroit. Wondering if I could. Like far too many, I relied on what I read in the news to shape my perspective, and most of that wasn’t good. But the job at the Freep was a good one, it was a step up from the Sun Sentinel, and that was good enough for me. If  nothing else this would be an adventure, and I was always up for those. Maybe too much so.

Then came the Great Newspaper Strike (what I call it) of 1995, and I made the decision to be one of those who sided with the union. Because the union was right. Wasn’t that complicated. But not long after I joined the picket line I had a haunting premonition that I would not be returning inside the Free Press building ever again. That premonition came true. Five years later, two years after I had gotten married on Sept. 11, 1998, we lost the strike. This was the conclusion of My Detroit Life #2.

From that point I began freelancing and pursuing my musical career in a much more intense fashion. This was the beginning of Detroit Life #3 which (so far as I can tell) is the life I’m living to this day. So I guess it should come as no surprise that all these years in Detroit have had a rather profound impact on my writing. Matter of fact, the only other place that has affected my writing style/ life anywhere near as much is Chicago, where I lived for nearly four years between 1980-84 on the South Side. Suffice to say I went in one way, came out another.

The thing about being a writer is there are so many times when you can feel like you’re just spewing words and phrases into the void, hoping they elicit a response from somewhere, anywhere, but not even knowing for sure whether they will exist far beyond the time when you gave them life and (hopefully) meaning. So when that rare occasion does come along and your words are not only appreciated, but honored, it’s a serious rush. It’s what I felt like when I got the call from Anna Clark that she wanted to include a piece I had written for the weekly online magazine Model D Detroit in “A Detroit Anthology”, a collection of writings by some of the best Detroit writers out there. To be included among their ranks is really, well, wow.

Today is a very good day.


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Writer and musician.

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