So here I am, launching a new website devoted to me and a blog to share my thoughts on a regular basis. This is definitely not me!
I don’t really enjoy the limelight. If you need proof, consider the times when all eyes in the room were trained on me, waiting for words of wisdom, and what they got was the proverbial deer in the headlights. I had some spectacular failures in public speaking settings.
So why expose myself to the limelight through a website—jimbarber.me no less—and a blog?
The short answer is I’ve written a book and I’d like to sell a few copies. To do that in today’s world, it helps to have a website and a blog, or so the experts say.
I’m calling my blog, Plowed Fields, which not coincidentally is the name of my soon-to-be-published first novel. You’ll read more about my novel in a subsequent blog, but the name has special meaning for me beyond the book title.
I grew up in a farming community in South Georgia. We raised a few hogs and corn on eight acres, not to mention massive gardens, but the bulk of my farming occurred elsewhere.
Beginning in the fourth grade, I spent my summers working on my maternal uncles’ farms. We spent six days a week roughly all summer gathering tobacco. Not to mention sewing tobacco beds at the end of the years, setting out the plants in late winter and spending every spring break hoeing the stuff. Every year, I used my earnings to buy new school clothes and supplies and saved the rest of it.
We gathered tobacco virtually every way you can imagine—I felt like I experienced the process inside out. It got in my blood, no doubt, but my big takeaway, besides learning the value of hard work, was the knowledge that I wanted a career where I could occasionally stick my feet up on my desk and enjoy air conditioning all day long!
Eyes on the Prize
From the second grade on, I actually had a career plan. I wanted to be a newspaper reporter. My first love was sports, but I really only liked football, basketball and tennis. The rest of it bored me, so I chose to focus on news reporting.
I started writing for the Berrien Press, my county newspaper, when I was a junior in high school covering football and basketball games. My favorite job may have been my first out of college, as editor of a weekly newspaper in middle Georgia. I worked there for nine months, doing everything from writing the stories, to taking the pictures and developing the film, laying out the newspaper and even selling advertising. It was a baptism by fire, and I loved it.
My newspaper career afforded me amazing opportunities, from covering three executions of killers to writing feature stories about incredible people. I spent most of my journalism career with United Press International and eventually found my way to a coveted job on a New York newspaper.
I had always dreamed of working in New York, and it was a fascinating experience. But I quickly discovered I had no desire to raise my family there.
While mulling over a job offer from a major newspaper in Florida, my old boss at UPI called me up one day and told me it was time to get out of the newspaper business. He encouraged me to apply for a public relations job at an electric utility. I took his advice and spent the next twenty-five years working in communications for one of the nation’s largest electric utilities.
It may not have been the career I expected, but I found my niche and came to enjoy it. It was a great job and a great career, from which I happily retired in 2016.
Since retirement, I’ve kept busy. I took a part-time job as the administrator of my church, where I manage day-to-day operations and helped secure the sale of our church property in the fall of 2018.
I also returned to creative writing and renewed my efforts to publish Plowed Fields, the novel I originally finished in 1997. Now that endeavor is coming to fruition, and with it comes my personal website and this blog.
As much as I love writing, it’s not something I feel called to do every day. Somedays, I feel like doing anything but writing, and I never feel guilty about that. So don’t expect me to blog for the sake of blogging.
I hope to share what matters to me, and in the process, give any readers food for thought.
Thanks for joining me.