Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A Good Place to Start

The old covered bridge, built in 1833, was becoming dilapidated in this 1910 photo.

Years ago when I was trying to take my writing "hobby" (personally, I never thought of it as that) to the next level, I began to write a number of articles for the local newspaper. I'd already had an article published in the Ontario Churchman, a piece about a local centenarian I'd interviewed. Hers was a fascinating story about teaching school in the early 1900s. I wondered if there might be a market for more of these personal interest stories.

This was our history and, as it turned out, the local paper took every article I could write. They named the series Quinte Living History. During an interview with a lifelong resident of the town, she described her fear of crossing the covered bridge over the river at night; she also told of the vast Gilmour Lumber Company that used to dominate the scene at the river's mouth, the shops and homes that once lined the main street. 

Because I've always dreaded "cold calling" anyone to ask if they'd agree to an interview, I started out by contacting people I already knew — people from my church, friends of my parents. Fortunately, after the interview several offered suggestions of other folk who had led interesting lives, a local doctor who still made house calls, a Great Lakes sailor, a family who managed one of the first movie houses in town, a Barnardo "child", a larger-than-life, retired police chief who was also a champion pie eater. 

The newspaper was published twice a week in those days before personal computers. Before long, my name became recognized as a writer and someone who was interested in local history. That meant that I was asked to join others who were working on story collections about Trenton and the wider area, and I became a contributor and co-editor for three books of local history. It proved to be a good place to start.  

Happy New Year! Happy Writing!

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