The Serendipity of September

The Serendipity of September


When I think of September, I think yellow school busses, football and cooler weather. I throw open my screen porch door and house windows to allow the fresh, crisp air to waft through my house like a welcome friend. I also adore the renewed energy of Fall that seems to radiate everywhere, although admittedly, it is muted due to the pandemic.

Meanwhile, something happened to me recently that conjured up that same sense of excitement, although this occurrence relates to my life as a freelance writer.

With time on my hands during the quarantine, I often found myself perusing LinkedIn for something interesting to read. A few months back, I happened upon a post about a non-profit organization, headquartered in Johnstown, Ohio, just east of Columbus. The message’s author was John Mennell, the founder of the Ohio Literacy Bank (OLB). The mission of his non-profit is ending illiteracy by providing new and recycled magazines to at-risk readers in locations easily accessible to them, such as food banks.

I immediately invited John to connect with me, and he obliged. We exchanged several messages about his group and how I wanted to volunteer at some point. We share a love of magazines, and it was fun to discuss how the industry has evolved over the years. Thankfully for my professional endeavors, print magazines are not a dying breed, as evidenced by an article in Forbes. New titles, such as Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia, are replacing defunct hardcopy publications such as Marie Claire.

I feel an extra dose of pride when one of my pieces appears in a print publication

I am incredibly grateful for technology and the Internet, because they expose freelance writers to a large, diverse and information-hungry audience and online publications for whom to write. However, I must admit I feel an extra dose of pride when one of my pieces appears in a print publication versus online only. In my mind, there is something poetic, even romantic, about opening a magazine and flipping through its colorful pages. People carry magazines from room to room and keep them stacked on their bedside table. Some read magazines cover-to-cover and others, sadly, are left in the plastic in which they arrived until it’s time they are recycled. No matter their journey, magazines are ubiquitous and I am supremely thankful for that.

Back to John. After two aborted attempts to meet face-to-face to further discuss our professional commonalities, we recently met in-person for coffee and a chat.

John regaled me with interesting stories how his small-but-mighty non-profit is attacking illiteracy. To hear him discuss the various magazines the OLB has received and distributed as well as the numerous unselfish acts of volunteerism performed by supporters across the country that have ensured that publications get in the hands of those who would benefit is like listening to a well-tuned orchestra. As John’s zeal and pride about his organization’s mission grew, so did my interest in hearing more.

And that’s when my moment of serendipity hit.

I felt a surge of excitement as story ideas based on the OLB’s successes flooded my brain. Intuitively, I began brainstorming about which publications might be interested in those ideas and why John’s story might appeal to the demographics of particular outlets. John and his mission are compelling and I was thrilled to be learning more about him and his organization’s efforts. All of that and they’re right here in central Ohio, too.

I scribbled notes in my characteristically messy handwriting as he spoke, careful to understand the gravity of his non-profit’s efforts and achievements. I peppered him with questions, all of which he answered with positivity and specificity. Meeting in person, over a cup of coffee, just like I would have pre-COVID-19, was refreshing. It was also vaguely familiar as an activity I enjoyed immensely prior to COVID-19. Meeting face-to-face made the experience that much richer, and I realized how much I missed the social aspect of being a freelance writer.

My heart pumped with adrenaline while meeting with John because after so long of not interacting with people face-to-face, I was gifted with that experience again. Speaking with him at arm’s length rather than through a square box on my laptop monitor, ala Zoom, reminded me of one of my favorite aspects of being a freelancer that I truly missed: social interaction. That experience reignited my zeal for writing, which honestly had waned during the long, hot summer and the even longer and seemingly unending worldwide pandemic.

Thankfully, it’s back and so am I. Hope you enjoy a serendipitous September, too.

(c)Tami Kamin Meyer, 2021, all rights reserved

This essay first appeared in the September 2021 issue of Write Now ColumbusSubscribe here.

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