The Publisher's Desk: Writing is hard work, but editors help

This is going to come as no surprise to most of you: I am a nerd. 

I have many interests and writing is one of them. A related interest, which Sarah likes to tease me mercilessly about, is reading about writing, learning about writing, writing about writing or anything, really, to do with writing. 

I like writing. 

I’m getting help. 

For example, I get help from my therapist, William Zinsser. We meet periodically and he inspires me ... to write more and to write better. 

I’ve never met him face to face. I don’t even know if he’s still alive. 

But he wrote this amazing book, “On Writing Well,” that is, well, about writing. 

And he tells us (you know, those of us who care about writing) that good writing isn’t actually in the writing, it’s in the editing. 
Here’s a thought directly from him. 


Mrs. Dykowski... thinks there's more going on here than just football

I was recently chatting with a fellow sports writer about coaches and their roles on the field. 

Their teaching and strategizing are crucial to winning games, but really, to me, that’s their least important role. 

I know that’s probably a surprising opinion since my reporting focuses on wins and losses.

But there’s so much more that can be going on during the games, practices and pep talks than just football. 

Coaches have a unique opportunity to shape the lives of their students. 

A lot of these kids have excellent fathers or father-figures in their lives. A lot of them don’t. 

Sure, there’s a line coaches have to respect when it comes to the private family lives of their students, but they still have a chance to be an example of leadership, respect and kindness for kids who don’t see that modeled at home. 

Some kids have trouble getting motivated to study and pay attention in school.


Mrs. Dykowski... thinks you need a village

Hey! You there. Yes, you, skimming through this page. 

You need a village. 

Lately, I’ve been perusing some mommy blogs and forums, a common pastime when pregnancy fatigue catches up with me. 

I see these women asking questions, looking for advice or just venting to strangers on the internet. 

They get about a thousand conflicting responses and somehow they are supposed to move forward with that and carry on. Um ... no thanks. 

They need a village. 

They need people they trust who care and will listen and respond with advice that has a friendly face and a real name attached. BabyMomma3341 and HuggiesGal22 are not a village. They might not even be real women. 

As a society, we stink at making real, lasting connections that we can call on when we need help. 

We’ve got to get better at this, people. 

You need someone to call when your kid won’t quit crying and you need to step away. 


One Reporter's Ramblings: Maybe there are no wrong numbers

Sometimes a friend is just a misdial away. That’s what my mom found last week anyways.

I often go to my parents’ house for lunch and Mom was dialing her twin sister as I started making my meal. I got out of earshot and she was already talking on the phone when I came back.

For about a minute, I just thought she was talking to my aunt until she started asking about how the other person was doing “up there” and said something about it being around five years since they last spoke.

I began to grasp she had misdialed my aunt in south Texas and instead reached a man in Montana — one that she had accidentally called several years before. 

He had apparently recognized my mom’s unique speech pattern and rather than inform her of the mistake and rush off the phone, they caught up.

Two character traits I get from my mom are definitely “the gift of gab” and that I “never meet a stranger.”


The Publisher's Desk: Under pressure, Sonic nurse shines

Cindy and I were having a pleasant conversation about Sonic food one afternoon when her description of cheeseburgers was interrupted  by a loud noise outside our office. 

Neither of us saw it — it’s hard to pay attention to anything else when you’re talking about food. 

But the first thing Cindy said when we heard it was, “That was a wreck.” 

Sure enough, we quickly glanced outside and saw two vehicles pressed together — a car that had hit a big truck — right in front of the entrance to Sonic. 

So much for cheeseburgers. 

From the looks of it, the truck had tried to pull into Sonic and didn’t notice the car heading north on Patrick Street when it turned. 

The car, I suppose, didn’t have time to stop. 

Cindy’s first reaction was to grab the phone at her desk and call 911. 

My first reaction was to head outside and see if everyone is OK. 


Mrs. Dykowski... focuses on what really matters

Focus has never really been a strength of mine. 

Any mother can probably commiserate when I say that has only gotten worse since I’ve been in the family way. 

For whatever effort it requires and whatever obstacles we have to overcome, being intentional about our focus is worth it. 

It’s easy, in the age of social media and consolidated power, to let other people guide your focus. 

Before you know it, you might be more caught up in what someone is doing at a football game than you are the needs in your own community. 

It’s easy and, let’s be honest, sometimes more fun to be a keyboard activist than to do the things that make a real difference in this world and bring people together. I’m guilty. 


The Publisher's Desk: Naming another girl- an apparently impossible task

To all you people who have more than one daughter: What’s your secret?

To what? Not your secret to navigating a house of girls or your secret to keeping them from fighting — what’s your secret to naming them?

Because there is something Sarah and I are discovering that I’m starting to call a universal truth — there are only three good girl names per family. 

We’ve already used two of ours with our first child — Adeline Darci. 

We have found one name we like for our second daughter (which we aren’t sharing yet; we want to be sure before we share). 

But that other name — it evades us. 

Darci has been very helpful in the process. 

So far she has thrown in the following suggestions for our second daughter’s middle name.

-Big Girl, pronounced “Bid Durl”
-Adeline, pronounced “Ad-a-wine”
 -Little Baby, pronounced “Widdle Bah-by”
-Baby Sister, pronounced “Bah-by Sisser”


Mrs. Dykowski... goes home for Homecoming

I think I should feel my age this week, as I make plans to attend my 10-year high school reunion and celebrate one of my last 20-something birthdays in the same weekend. 

Maybe it’s because I’m blaming all signs of aging on being pregnant, but I don’t feel close to 30 yet. 

Maybe when I see the people I knew as reckless teens with their wives and kids, it will dawn on me how much time has really passed. 

I do feel weird about it all, but not in an I’m-getting-older-what’s-happening-to- me, kind of way. 

But it is odd to compare first and second pregnancies with a girl from my class when the last real conversation we had was about what colleges we were looking at attending.

When guys who rarely dated in high school RSVP, adding that they will be bringing their wives and several kids, it’s weird. 

Several of my classmates can’t get off work to make it. One has to go to her son’s soccer game. It all sounds so grown up. 


One Reporter's Ramblings: Watches are too smart for our own good

My watch is only smart in that it looks good (aside from a couple of scratches on the face).

So it was with a little bit of envy that I saw Scott got a “smart watch” for his birthday. 

Ever since the devices were unveiled, I remembered childhood dreams on communicating on my wristwatch like in “Dick Tracy.” (For those keeping count, that’s two weeks in a row that I mentioned the goofy 1990 movie. I must be going for a record!)

Of course, smart watches are mainly extensions of phones displaying messages from the wearer’s cell so they don’t have to fumble in their pocket. There are also additional functions like measuring your pulse, steps and sleep patterns.


Mrs. Dykowski... on learning the power of community journalism

Early in my journalism career, I was a student contributor to my college paper, the Ram Page. 

The editor, certain I would be a successor to her office, assigned me some of the more difficult, but enjoyable stories that came across her desk, the ones she didn’t keep for herself, that is. 

It was fun to be a second-semester student interviewing the university president about new policies and his plans for the future of the school. 

I remember discussing with him how many students didn’t approve of his plans to expand the campus and raise tuition to fund numerous construction projects. 

He told me that the school needed to reach 10,000 students or it would eventually have to close. 

I remember thinking raising tuition definitely was not the way to do that,  because most of my classmates and I chose Angelo State because it was the most affordable four-year option.


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