Once upon the end of 2016

Once upon a time, there was a writer who didn’t write.

He knew how to write. He had written. He just had stopped.

And not stopped in the dramatic way one assumes writers of melodramas must punctuate their prose (“I am so DONE with this CHAPTER!”). It had more simply quietly slipped away, first as a pause when his mother died the previous May, then was logically extended when he took a new full-time job a month later, and then … well, it just continued. Through the end of the old year, and into the start of the new.

He did take a brief break from not-writing in the spring, but only to review three new Amazon initiatives (and write an impassioned, well-reasoned plea to save a local public radio station for its digital media efforts) at the request of his former column home. It later turned out that those four essays were the end of it — of five years as a columnist and contributor to the tech news site GeekWire, and shorter parallel periods as a columnist for education technology news sites like EdSurge and NPR/KQED’s MindShift.

He finally realized it wasn’t because he couldn’t write. He actually still had quite a bit researched and even drafted. It’s just that he felt he had nothing new to say, and no one wants to become known as the author equivalent of the old guy who repeatedly yells, “Get off my lawn!”

The extended pause carried over to his other public activities, too. As the year came to a close, he realized his last public speaking engagement had been shortly after he stopped writing regularly.

He’d go into 2017 with an 18-month stretch nearly devoid of public writing and speaking.

And for this, he was verified on Twitter as a figure of public interest? No wonder Twitter had issues.

It wasn’t that 2016 was uneventful. He continued as vice president of marketing strategy for West Corporation’s Education group. His father passed away in September after a dramatic incident in January made it clear he had dementia, and he’d been able to fly to California monthly to visit and help as his dad moved from hospital to memory care home to hospital to rehab facility. He and his wife had a wonderful week-long hiking vacation in Palm Springs over Thanksgiving, appropriately punctuated with mid-century cocktails.

But 2016 ended with a one-time public figure not being quite as public. Was it an ending and redirection? Or a long cleansing of the palate?

As the new year brought a new chapter, he’d look forward to finding out if he was its protagonist, author, or both.