I took my first photograph when I was three and wrote my first story when I was four. I was not a prodigy — I was an only child. You learn to entertain yourself. Now 45, I still find pleasure in storytelling. I’m endlessly curious. Type A all the way. I like solving problems. It’s what I do.
When I was 14, newly employed by the Mobile County News, my biggest challenge was finagling my way into the boys’ locker room to get stats from the football coach. As a journalism student at The University of Alabama, I juggled 18-hour semesters while stringing photos for The Crimson White and Mobile Bay Monthly, working full-time at Books-A-Million, and running the campus photo lab. At 26, when I became editor of The Northport Gazette, I learned to function on two hours’ sleep, three pots of coffee, a styrofoam carton of cold Chinese food, and a driving desire to serve my community.
Four years later, in July 2002, I learned to let go. I took an ethical stance that cost my job. My world crashed. But when the tears dried, I realized something — I was still a writer. I would always be a writer. I founded Cloudybright Communications and never looked back.
I discovered a pleasure like no other while working for some of the best editors in the nation. I was privileged — and remain so — to work for publications like Christian Science Monitor and TIME Magazine. I lived out of a suitcase. I spent so many nights away from home, I kept a Post-It note by the phone to remind me of where I was. My dog, Cowboy, rode shotgun on every trip. It was a good life. It was a happy life.
It was also unsustainable. The economic crash of 2009 took my carefree freelance days with it.
When I was offered a position in April 2011 with a fourth-generation, family-owned daily newspaper in Mississippi, I jumped at the chance to reacquaint myself with community journalism and immerse myself in a part of the South that had long fascinated me. Gradually, my dog and I made a new life in Columbus, Miss, where I worked as news editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
Now the journey has come full-circle as I return to my freelance career. And 27 years after my first byline, it’s still a rush. I have been blessed to spend my life doing what I love. I could not ask for more.
Wondering if I will write or shoot for you? All you have to do is ask.