It has been 156 days since I last published in The Hot Springs Post. This very public break in publishing came with no warning or explanation, leaving it up to the imagination as to what happened. There was no farewell letter published or notification of sabbatical. Had something else taken me away from my passion for writing about Hot Springs? Was I on a new career path? Or had I simply lost the fire that lit the spark to keep this independently published website going? Before going into why I have been absent from The Post for nearly half a year, I guess I should start from the beginning.
I am not a native of Hot Springs. I grew up in Camden, Arkansas, and attended college at the University of Central Arkansas. My late grandparents had a condo in Hot Springs, and regular summer vacations here were plentiful and cherished.
When I graduated college I had plans to travel. And by “plans,” I mean I wanted to travel and had no other plan to make that happen. So I left college with nothing more than a BA Print Journalism Degree to my name and a dream to be a happy nomad. My gracious grandparents (who I can now only imagine shook their heads at my naivety behind closed doors) allowed me to temporarily stay in their condo while I “figured things out.” After three months of working as a waitress, spending my evenings indulging in post-shift drinks, and doing zero traveling because I had no money to do so, I decided it was time to get back to what I had worked so hard for. I started working for the local newspaper. This was the best decision I had made for myself since graduating.
During my two years at the newspaper, I fell even more in love with journalism and head over heels for Hot Springs. I loved working as a journalist in the community, but the pay was unethical, so I made the decision to resign at 23. The week I quit, a fear of losing my passion and talent as a journalist took over and pushed me to create The Hot Springs Post. Ironically, I went from wanting to live everywhere to nowhere but here, and since I could not find a journalism outlet that suited me in Hot Springs I decided to make my own.
At 23, I was unprepared for this, and I was cautious to be aware of my unpreparedness from the beginning. I do not take lightly the duty or power a journalist holds in their words. Media has an impact on every one of our lives, and to be a young-20-something journalist starting her own publication without the slightest clue as to how, I was scared of doing it wrong. And sometimes I did. Thankfully, with the help of my old college professors and editors I met through independent freelancing, I wasn’t completely in the dark and I've spent the last two years with some consistent degree of public trial and error.
One of my largest structural mistakes in publishing was I took what I had learned about coverage from previous newspaper positions and used it almost as a template for what I would cover, rather than creating my vision. I was independently attempting to cover everything, similar to how newsrooms full of reporters do and got overwhelmed when I didn’t do it well. I wish I had known from the start that I needed a niche. I needed to cover an inch wide and a mile deep to provide the quality journalistic standards I hold myself to, and the quality journalism the public deserves.
So, I overdid it with a passion project that didn’t pay the bills, and I suffered burnout. In the shame I held as the perfectionist I am, I was in denial that 1. I needed a break, and 2. I was indeed taking a break. And in the blink of an eye, nearly half of a year went by with no word to my dedicated readers as to why.
There isn’t a direct “why.” This unannounced break from publishing is simply a part of my journey in navigating an independent publication. But I am happy to say I am returning to publishing The Post.
As of today, you can expect regular content from The Post once again. However, instead of trying to cover every aspect of what’s going on in Hot Springs, I am going to focus on one important topic at a time. I am, after all, a one-woman publication. (I say this speaking mostly to my inner critic.) And since I freelance for multiple outlets, some non-Hot Springs pieces may be published here too.
While publishing The Post, I will continue promoting my book, 100 Things to Do in Hot Springs Before You Die, and working on my second book: Secret Hot Springs (coming Spring 2024). Other places you may see my byline are with the Visit Hot Springs Blog, and in The Idle Class, which I am currently acting as the Associate Editor for. But I pick up freelance opportunities all the time, so you never know where you may find my name! You will also see some of my social media management work with Ron Coleman Mining and the Spa Running Festival, and my web design work with Steve Campbell Electric and M3 Services.
I have recently moved to Little Rock, but as you can see, the majority of my work still very much resides in Hot Springs. As does my downtown office, which I have been provided courtesy of M3 Services.
Before I leave you, I would also like to give a special thanks to Charlie Devine with Rocket Fizz, hotelier Parth Patel, Amanda Mitchell and Tyler Coats with The Club House, Cynthia Hall with Hammer and Stain, and Kirstie Kendall and Shane Light with Roboworld for helping to financially support The Post and its endeavors through advertising.