Word Salad Vol.1
Hello whoever cares to read this, I have decided to dive into the word of writing personal dispatches (hipster-speak for blogging). Since I could remember I have always been a writer, from short stories, to technical documents, creating the Facebook page for my Air Force reserve unit, research, penning enough lyrics for three mixtapes, and contributing feature stories about travel, outdoor recreational, and environmental issues. I’m a stan for prose. Every year from 2011-2017, I had contributed an article to an outlet whether it was the Campus Times (the newspaper of my alma mater), or The Tennessee Magazine where I penned a feature story about the Chattajack, or travel dispatches for Cincinnati Refined. Over the past few years as the task load with several of my endeavors and organizational leadership positions (Explore Kentucky Initiative, The Kentucky Waterman Series, and Kentucky Rural Urban Exchange) has grown, my “ for fun “ written output has been dismal.
As I have gradually slipped away from journalistic endeavors, my only saving grace for the right to call myself a journalist has been my somewhat vibrant freelance photography/photojournalism career. Even that is not where it used be.. alas! My time is spent is writing press releases to garner earned media for various initiatives, being on the other side of the interview chair, hosting programs, balancing spreadsheets, being a low-key guest speaker, and talking about myself (yuck). This isn’t necessarily bad as I have managed to rack up some cool accolades; Lexenomics’s 2016 Artist of the Year, Blue Ridge Outdoor Magazine’s 30 under 30 top outdoor leaders, and the Joe Pina Leadership Award from the American Canoe Association. Also it’s been by choice, as I felt it’s important to excel as one of the few black people (do I have to say persons of color because it’s 2019?) in the outdoor recreation, environmental, and community development world. Wokeness aside, if you were to rewind back to 2012, zoom into Campbellsville, KY, home to a university (CU) of its namesake. one would find a hungry, unstoppable, and probably annoying younger Gerry who always had a camera in his hand and who was searching for “ the scoop.” My career trajectory and dreams were different in that era. I envisioned be a staff writer for the New York Times, Outside Magazine ( they published one of my photos), or The Atlantic…Then and even now, I have been addicted to bylines versus headlines. I remember the first time Stan McKinney, who was my academic advisor, chair of Mass Communication Department, and publisher of the campus newspaper, told me a story I wrote about a campus tree being measured and core sampled by the Kentucky Division of Forestry to determine its age was going to make the paper. The day the paper arrived and I glanced at the print seeing “ By Gerry Seavo James Staff Writer “, I experienced a rush of dopamine that can only be accurately described as 1:45 - 1:47 of the Bee Gee’s smash record, “ Staying Alive . For me a solid byline is akin to a ribbon on my uniform rack, also there is pride that an editor feels you have the chops, and a satisfaction knowing the masses will see your work (even though most don’t pay attention to the author).
Last year University of Kentucky Press reached out to me about turning in a proposal to update a book, when I did, they came back to me asking if I would like my own title. Also because of the following and experience ( technical, on the ground, and professional) experience I have accrued over the past few years I have garnered “ clout “ that instead of me pitching stories, publications have reached out to me to cover various topics. I have put those requests on the back burner because freelance journalism isn’t the most lucrative, pay can be screwy ( It took me nearly a year to get paid by a large publication) and your boy (<<I know that it’s an informal term, but this is a personal dispatch) has student loans, car note, etc to care of! However the passion in me has been burning and also writing is therapeutic. But like anything you have to practice and stay sharp. So that’s what my personal dispatches will exist for, as a whetstone to my knife ( my mind) to re-establish my writing style, work on my grammar, re-establish a connection to various style guides, and communicate with friends, family, and the general public in a longform way.
P.S: These personal dispatches are loosely edited and off the top of the dome like any good freestyle. So that means I might get cute, edit these pieces, add photos, and all that jazz.