Howdy! My sons, Sean and Shamus just call me “Dad,” but I reckon I’m most widely known as Don, that dude who pens the award-winning column, Don’t Rush Me, published weekly since the late 1980s. (See samples of Don’t Rush Me by clicking here.)
When I was a newspaper editor, I edited young reporters and editorial interns to help them hone their craft — to engage, educate and entertain readers. As a Writing Coach, I help high school, college students and beginning authors to become stronger writers. I start by letting them know one of my little secrets: Write for the Reader, not your ego.
Although I wasn’t born with a pen or pencil in my hand, I was given something to write with before I was even a year old! See this picture of a baby with the pencil behind his ear? That’s me.
Many, many moons ago when I was in the third grade, my very own saintly mother gave me my very first typewriter. Ever since then, my fingers have tickled keyboards hither and yon, turning words into sentences, stories, poetry, news items, web content and more! Yup, I am one of “those” people who finds writing easy and fun.
In the beginning
Imagination is a wonderful gift and for better or worse, my family encouraged mine. Every day a new edition of our newspaper was delivered to our home. Trips to the library were frequent. Sometimes, when I was lucky, in the summertime when our extended families came together, after the sun set and the darkness filled the sky, uncles told us young ones stories off the tops of their heads. Looking back, my childhood was a world of words.
Before my 10th birthday, I was hand-writing so many stories my mother gave me her old Underwood typewriter. While the keys are pretty much stuck and the ribbon is all but a thin, dried piece of cloth, it still makes me smile when I see it on display in my Michigan home.
Following the dream
I left high school knowing I wanted to be a writer, more specifically a newspaper reporter. Some of my first typed stories would today be called “fan fiction,” though they were shared with no one save my own family. As a kid, I loved the TV show, Kolchak, The Night Stalker in which Darren McGavin starred as the tired, but true reporter. While wearing his trademark bad Seersucker suit, straw fedora and tennis shoes, he uncovered monsters — and in bumbling ways always found a way to slay them. His character made it into my stories.
A journalism major in college, I worked in a cemetery to pay my way through school. (Insert jokes here: “I dug that job.” “People were dying to get in.” And while I was young, I felt pretty good about myself because I could say “I had a lot of folks under me.”). To this day I haven’t slain a single monster. However I have penned more than 1,500 Don’t Rush Me columns, and written many police, government, editorial and feature articles — a number of which were recognized by fellow journalists and given awards.
Over the years
In the newspaper business, I’ve had the privilege of working with many fine writers, first as a reporter, then editor and now as an assistant publisher. Grateful for the wisdom I picked up from the writers who came before me, I am glad to help interns and reporters straight out of “J-school.” As an editor, I don’t believe in just the slash and burn, red-pen approach of many high school and college educators. Since I work with only a handful of reporters at a time, I’m able to work with each one personally to present work (items published in newspapers) customers want to read. After all, isn’t that the whole point of writing — having somebody read it?!
What I’m Doing Now
I still enjoy writing my column, Don’t Rush Me. In fact, I am in the midst of taking a bunch and fleshing them out for an upcoming book for dads. The working title is, “Don’t Rush Me; I’m Making Mistakes As Fast As I Can or How I Wrecked My Kids.” My goal is to complete it by the end of this year. In the meantime, I still work in the newspaper business, helping our reporters, our advertising department and our business partners to develop their marketing message.
Read my “gem of a weekly” column, Don’t Rush Me, by clicking here!
Since January 2017, I am the acting President of the Community Newspapers of Michigan Association, with over 100 member newspapers and a combined circulation of over 2.1 million readers!
As well as working as a writing coach, editor and content provider, I also help run a monthly writer’s group at the Brandon Township Library. If you live in the Southeast Michigan area, and are interested in writing a book, but you’re not sure where to start, come to the writer’s group every third Thursday of the month from 7 p.m. until 8:30 pm.