Two years and a million words later…

Today marks my second year on the editorial staff here at the Henderson Daily News. I was actually hired Friday, Aug. 21, but my first day of work was the following Monday. The only thing I remember, as I sat down at my desk on that first day, was the sudden sick feeling of being in way over my head.

“What have I got myself into?” I said to myself. “They’re going to figure out that I’m a fraud who has no idea what he’s doing and they’re going to send me packing.”

But to quote the guy who suddenly found himself falling off a 10-story building: so far so good.

Indeed, those “butterflies” have long since been replaced by an unquenchable hunger.

Thinking upon this milestone, I took stock of my paltry contribution to this local “paper of record.”

According to my personal archives, I’ve written 1,543 articles for this paper at an average of 667 words for each story. More than a million of my words have been published in this humble chronicle.

One million words.

The Scriptures teach that, upon the dread “Day of Judgment” all souls will give account for every careless word that has been spoken. Surely it is for what is written as well. I hope my words prove to hold true.

Looking at those first few stories I cringe at every error and typo, chuckle at my clumsy and ham-fisted efforts to articulate the meat of the story. I am so thankful for the generous editing I received in those early days, which polished my many tawdry rhinestones of thought.

You have no idea how much work goes into not looking like a complete moron, and succeeding only rarely.

There’s a story on the chamber of commerce (Aug. 24) that I wish I had another crack at, a terse write-up on the “upcoming” renovations to what was then still known as Henderson Memorial Hospital (Aug. 25), and don’t get me started on my first article on the city council (Aug. 26).

Let’s just say it’s a good thing my editors gave me enough rope. I’m just glad I figured out how to swing and not hang myself, though some days I still come pretty close.

In the last 24 months, I feel as though I’ve learned a lot about my community and about the people of Rusk County. I’ve spoken with so many of you during my tenure here, been witness to good times and bad. Described horrors too painful to recall and celebrated every accomplishment brought to my attention.

The conversations I’ve shared with you all come flooding back in a grand cacophony of sound and passion. So many sincere words of gratitude, abundant compliments and even the occasional criticism, some more valid than others.

I only hope to be thought worthy enough to represent you well in my charge, for I believe myself to serve your collective interests as a member of the “Fourth Estate.”

Even as I have been honored by my peers on occasion and rewarded by my superiors for the fruits of my labor, I still feel I have a long way to go.

I am not content, rather I hope to find new and better ways to fulfill my Constitutionally-mandated role as a member of a free press. As Americans you deserve no less than the very best I and my colleagues can do.

Lord willing, I intend to remain at this paper for as long as they will tolerate my obnoxious presence and lofty, ornate prose.

Though I can look back on the considerable sum of one million words, I hope to craft millions and millions more. I only hope that they are words for which I am able to give a true account.

But for now: so far so good.


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