Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, June 7, 2019, 11:49 a.m.
Uh, the Red Sox have won four in a row. The Warriors are down. So are the Bruins. Yesterday I asked the governor a few questions. I wrote about a high school graduation. I watched Clemson’s Tiger mascot entertain and pose with elementary-school children. I went to a city council meeting that was three hours total and two in executive session.
That’s just this week.
Life’s a blur. Today it’s going to rain. Tomorrow it’s going to rain. Sunday it’s going to rain. Monday it’s going to rain. Okay, life wasn’t really a blur. My days have been busy, but that’s always true.
How has life changed since it shifted from national to countywide?
It’s more consistent. Each morning I get up, charge the cell phone, put on some coffee, take some medication, turn on the news (or maybe an episode of Columbo or an old movie), sip the coffee, check the email and social media, and have breakfast. If I have an assignment or appointment early in the day, I eat breakfast at Steamers, but most days I fix breakfast for myself, and it’s almost the same. It’s almost the same at Steamers, too, except that I have a bagel at home and grits there.
In the afternoon, when not on assignment, I look up and edit the day’s obituaries, compile the arrest report and edit news releases so that they are ready for publication at GoLaurens/GoClinton.
In a small county, it’s amazing how often I see some people and amazing how seldom I see some others. Some places I dread, and some I relish.
In some ways, the NASCAR circuit I wrote about for 20 years was a traveling small county. One difference is that travel takes a lot of time. Air travel I can do without. Long drives — to Richmond and Martinsville, Va.; Daytona Beach and Homestead, Fla.; Hampton, Ga.; Talladega, Ala.; Bristol, Tenn.; Concord, N.C.; and Darlington, S.C. — I miss a lot. If offered a chance to write about NASCAR from the road and not the living room again, the only way I’d do it is if it were limited to places to which I could drive. I might even throw in Dover, Del., and Sparta, Ky., and the latter is a place where I once vowed never to return.
So I miss it a little.
I do like what I write about now, though. I’ve even cultivated an enjoyment for photography. It’s nice to anticipate what would go well with a story I’ve hardly contemplated. Pairing a photo of a kid getting his diploma, wearing shades and a goofy grin, with a headline that reads “One last walk across the LDHS stage …” and writing a story that fits, too, is a form of satisfaction I hadn’t experienced since I edited a NASCAR weekly in the ’90s.
Photography, in short, has evolved into more than a necessary evil. It’s long been my view that one cannot take photographs of an event and write about it without each detracting from the other. It’s true, just not as true as I thought. Politics is sometimes called the art of the possible. Journalism is, too.
Most of my days afford enough time to write blogs like this one, gear up on finishing that ninth novel, and take a break to play guitar or read a novel.
This year is the seventh since two decades of NASCAR ended suddenly and with little warning. Only now does what has changed seem normal.
Another way I cobble out a living is with my books, a wide variety of which is available for sale here.
The new novel, my eighth, is called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
Lightning in a Bottle is now available in an audio version, narrated by Jay Harper.