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 to a digital startup.
For the next five years I worked for what’s now called Herecast, a small Vermont-based company with big ideas about a new kind of local news and information website. In a time of fundamental change, Herecast took a fundamentally different approach. Whether it will succeed remains an open question. I hope so.
But 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.
As for what next — well, I’m building my freelance business, working on short stories and a novel, and stretching my skills with creative writing coursework at Dartmouth.