I once enjoyed a cup of coffee with two wise friends who are both named Steve, and the Steve who lives next door shared three questions that I’ve thought about a great deal since.
The first was, Who am I?
I am a storyteller.
The next: If that’s who I am, what do I do?
That wasn’t hard to answer either: I write.
And finally: If that’s what I do, how do I pay the bills?
For most of my career I worked as a newspaper reporter and editor, primarily at two family-owned New Hampshire newspapers: the Valley News and the Concord Monitor. I spent a stint in between at what is now the Tampa Bay Times. I was fortunate — all three were terrific newspapers with high standards and talented staffs.
During a year’s fellowship at Harvard as a Nieman Fellow, in 2002-03, I developed an interest in helping local newspapers meet the emerging crisis of the Internet. In time this led to stints as publisher at the Valley News and the Monitor — and eventually a combination of frustration and failure that led me away from newspapers.
For the next five years I worked for a small Vermont-based startup with big ideas about a new kind of local news and information website. I learned a lot about an entirely different way of thinking and working — but ultimately, the startup failed.
At heart I’ve always been a storyteller. Along the way I wrote two books, the first — My Brave Boys, a New Hampshire Civil War history — with Mike Pride, the longtime Monitor editor and my good friend. The second is Pliney Fiske, a Civil War mystery I wrote in hopes of stretching my creative skills and reaching a different audience. More recently I wrote In Union, a history of the Shaker village in Canterbury, the town where I live.
I’m pleased that my career has now come full circle: back to reporting and writing, where it began. I’ve enjoyed freelance magazine writing and editing, and over the past several years I’ve ghostwritten nine books and edited more as a freelancer for Scribe Media, a terrific and immensely successful company based in Austin, Texas.
I’ve also stretched my skills as a writer with graduate classes in Dartmouth’s Master in the Art of Liberal Studies program and am happily engaged in several personal writing projects.