I'm writing this column one month before my actual vacation. I'm doing it in advance so that Scott won't have to worry about filling up the editorial space while I'm gone. And, I wanted to have the chance to say thank you, even before I've left the state.
When you're the editor of a small town newspaper, the work can start to really consume your life. Life begins and ends every Wednesday. The new edition hits the streets, and preparation begins for the next week's issue. People call you, at work, at home, all day, for photos and coverage. Every day, you focus on presenting your community, as positively as possible, every week.
But, it means that it's very easy to let it take over your own life. You plan all your personal events and trips around the paper. You know you can't go out of town at certain times, you can't have company come to visit, you can't do things spontaneously.
When I started planning the vacation I'm going to have been on this past week, I came to the realization that it's been at least nine years since I missed putting out a paper. In 12 years, this is only the second time I haven't been directly responsible for the paper that will go to press on Tuesday evening.
Part of me is very excited by that prospect, while another part is terrified at the prospect of not being in control of the finished product. But, I have a number of reasons to not have to worry too much.
First, and foremost, I have an incredible staff. Though we are a small operation, I have some incredibly talented and hard working folks in our office. Donna Nelson, in addition to building our ads, will be typesetting articles, columns and news releases for this issue, as well as formatting photos for insertion in the paper. T. J. Schmidt not only works with advertisers to get ads finalized, she also proof reads every page before it goes to press and will not let anything go out that isn't as close to perfect as possible. Tom Kent will make sure all the "loose ends" of delivery to the press and distribution are done exactly as they should be. And, Scott Wesner will pull all the elements together into a paper that Mason folks will enjoy. He did it prior to my arrival, so he already respects and understands our readers, so that puts me at great ease.
And then, there are all of you. I've had a number of readers, once they knew I had a vacation planned, who have come to me and told me that they not only felt I deserved some time off; but, that I really SHOULD get away from things for a bit. They pointed out that, for months, I've been short tempered and cranky. They reminded me of times I had let things slip through the cracks, even when I thought I had everything prepared perfectly.
The wonderful thing about my friends, family and neighbors is that they know I value their honesty and directness. When I reach the point that those people start coming to me and telling me - "Go away for a bit," I know that they are telling me that for my benefit and not being mean or vindictive. And, they really mean that I need to get far enough away that I can't be called back at a moment's notice.
If everything goes according to plan, my travel crew and I got back from New England on Tuesday night. I will have had a good night's rest before showing up to get a paper out on the street that I've had no hand in producing. If there are problems and I don't make it back by Tuesday night, the staff already knows what will need to be done on Wednesday until I can get into the office.
I want to thank Scott for filling in. Thanks to Donna, T. J., Tom, Jacki and Gideon for all that you've done. Thanks to my travel crew: Sean & Terri Reardon, Kevin Shoemaker, Annie Chappell. Thanks to Bruce and Susan Wheltle for the cabin, and to the Fraser family for the company. And thanks to all of you for playing along as I recharge my batteries!
It’s all just my opinion.