I get asked sometimes how I got my start at Katy Times. I’m told that it seems that I just materialized into the Katy scene out of nowhere and started interviewing people while wearing absurdly high heels.
That’s not an entirely incorrect assessment. I was a stay-at-home-mom for nine years before my byline ever appeared in print. I love my kids and felt that staying home with them was important, but I never felt that sense of fulfillment that a lot of stay-at-home-parents have. I longed, every day, to be a writer again.
I stumbled into my job at Katy Times, truth be told. My dog rescue was invited to bring our adoptable dogs to one of the many events hosted by the small businesses in Old Katy. There were food trucks, vendors and of course, beers from No Label, and it gave my tiny Katy-based dog rescue a great chance for exposure.
A freelance writer for the Katy Times, Mark Goodman (no relation), was there interviewing people for the paper, and he approached our tent. I’d somehow become the unofficial spokesperson for the rescue, so I ended up giving the interview.
After he interviewed me, Mark and I made small talk, laughing about our same last names and wondering if he were distantly related to my husband. I mentioned that I was actually a writer by trade, but I’d been semi-retired for the better part of a decade.
He told me that Katy Times needed more freelancers, and if I wanted to flex my writing muscles, writing at my leisure as a freelancer might be a fun thing for me.
I reached out to the publisher, Terry, who told me to submit a writing sample. All I had was the pro-bono stuff I’d written for various charities. Other than the fact I had a large vocabulary and strong command of grammar, the work I submitted didn’t really illustrate my abilities as a journalist.
Terry took a chance on me anyway.
It was the charities, I think, that really catapulted me into this job. There are so many wonderful charities in Katy, and so many people are involved in them. I like writing about charities, so I went to as many events as I could. If you’re even remotely friendly, you’ll find that you’ve made connections with half the city by attending three charity events.
The stories started coming to me simply because I showed up to stuff. People truly wanted their stories to be told, and I truly wanted to tell them. Next thing I knew, I’m having to wear shorts without paint stains on them to the grocery store because I’m inevitably going to run into nine people I know in the produce section alone.
The timing was convenient. My littlest had just started school, so I was ready for a career again. Freelancing quickly became full-time writing which quickly became managing the entire paper.
I’ve never loved a job like I love this one. When the higher-ups told me they wanted me to write a weekly column, I had no idea people would actually read it, let alone constantly send me emails about how I either made them laugh or struck a chord with them or inspired them.
Every single one of those emails was magic to me, by the way. You can ask my mom. Every time you sent me a message about what my column meant to you, I called her and told her about it.
Not everything about my job was happy. Even in a place like Katy, bad things happen, and as a reporter, it was my job to write about them. But even in those horrible stories, there was light. I saw first-hand the raw and unmitigated determination of our first responders when it came to trying to save a life or apprehend a criminal.
Here’s where all this is going: I’m hanging my hat with Katy Times. I have such mixed feelings about leaving, but a few things are absolutely certain in my mind.
First, this paper is more than a paper. It’s a piece of Katy itself. I’ve always thought of it as more of an autobiography of the city than a news source. You can’t extricate the Katy Times from Katy because it is Katy. Katy Times is the grain silos and the Rice Harvest Festival. It’s the schools and the local businesses. It’s the verve of LaCenterra and the charm of Old Katy.
Second, I’m leaving this paper in good hands. I know Fenice Community Media will do this city justice. I wouldn’t trust just anyone with this paper, and believe me when I say, they’ll do this right.
Third, any success I ever had with this paper, I owe to you. I got a start here because I could put a sentence together, but you’re the ones who made my career. You trusted me with your stories. You befriended me on a very real level, and you made my job an absolute joy.
They say do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life. I always thought that was one of those empty phrases that motivational speakers use, but you taught me how true it is.
I never worked a day at Katy Times. I just dove into our city and helped write its autobiography. Thank you for giving me that opportunity.