The Writing Dad

The story of Sue

During the late hours of Thursday, Jan. 28 and into the wee hours of Friday, Jan. 29, the Coalition on Homelessness performs the One Night Count in communities across King County.

In 2015, the One Night Count found there to be 10,047 point-in-time homeless in King County. Unfortunately, that number is expected to rise in 2016.

As part of my new role as the content writer for Valley Cities Counseling, I had the unique opportunity to speak with a woman by the name of Sue who was rescued from homelessness by Valley Cities last December.

Sue is now in a fully-furnished studio apartment at Valley Cities Landing, an on-site housing program managed by Valley Cities Counseling. The housing program offers a place for the chronically homeless to stay. Each tenant has their own case manager and the goal is to empower these people to get back on their feet and be successful in life.

The story I submitted on Sue will be part of a press release showing how South King County is working hard to prevent and ultimately end homelessness.

Sue is enjoying her new home at Valley Cities Landing.

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My mother-in-law, the miracle worker

On Tuesday, out of the blue, I received an email from a client wanting me to jump on an assignment for them in a pinch. This was a client that I had made previous arrangements with to write for but didn’t know when exactly I would start.

So, their email to me with my first assignment Tuesday was unexpected.

On top of that, they wanted me to interview a source by the following day and turn copy in by Friday.

As a stay-at-home dad I have some unique challenges that other writers don’t experience. Namely, I had to immediately figure out babysitting arrangements for Jocelyn while I was out Wednesday morning interviewing the source.

First, I thought of my wife. Fortunately, her boss is very understanding and will often times let Helen take care of Jocelyn in the workplace. The one problem: Helen was in back-to-back meetings Wednesday morning. Not very conducive for babysitting, even though my wife was willing and her colleagues, understanding.

But late Tuesday afternoon, it was my mother-in-law, Dixie, who swooped in and helped when it was needed.

So much of pop culture puts a bad spin on mother-in-laws. But I’m one of the lucky husbands whose mother-in-law is one of the sweetest, most generous, you’ll ever meet.

So, thank you, Dixie, for helping out in a pinch this morning. My story will be better for it, and Jocelyn will be well taken care of. She loves her grandma!

And lastly, a big thank you to all those mother-in-laws out there who defy the pop culture definition of what it means to be a mother-in-law.

Amazing what a walk will do…

Jocelyn and Daddy waterfront

On Sunday, I was going to work all day on my story. But thankfully, my wife and daughter knocked some sense into me. It was too beautiful of a day to waste and at the suggestion of my wife, we took a walk on the waterfront along Ruston Way in north Tacoma.

My wife, Helen, is always looking out for me, making sure I take time out from writing to recharge myself. The last thing she wanted to see was me burning out from writing and never getting to enjoy the crisp, January air.

I think for writers it’s important to step away from the keyboard, and take pleasure in the simple things in life. When you do that, you’re able to come back to your writing with a renewed focus.

I’m fortunate to have a wife and daughter that reminds me daily how important it is to get outside, relax and recharge.

For you writers out there, make sure you stay connected to a strong support group that will give you those reminders and that gentle nudge to live a little.

Believe me, the story will be there when you return.

The Writing Process

It was around Thanksgiving 2015 that I got the green light from Seattle Business to proceed on a feature length, 1,300-1,400 word article about the city of Tacoma’s economic resurgence.

Over the past two months, I have amassed quite a lot of quotes, statistics and anecdotes proving that Tacoma is heading in the right direction following a dark recession in which unemployment in the winter of 2010 peaked at 11.9 percent and now, as of October, dropped to 5.7 percent.

I have plenty of sources to thank that have helped me along the way as I gathered data. Specifically, Ricardo Noguera, Tacoma’s director of economic development director, who was very responsive every time I shot him an email with a burning question about this or that. In addition to answering questions and being a key source, he introduced me to others who have played a huge part in growing Tacoma’s renewing economy.

And of course, I also thank my wife, Helen, for all her support, and my now 18-month-old daughter, Jocelyn. All the while, I’ve kept up my stay-at-home dad duties while also plugging away at this story.

This weekend I’m zeroing in on the first draft of this story, before I send it off to my editor, Leslie Helm, who I also graciously thank for all his support. I’m looking forward to seeing my hard work in print come this spring 2016.

FICKES FAMILY FUN DAY ON THE MT. RAINIER SCENIC RAILROAD

Over the weekend the wife and I and our 11-month-old daughter, Jocelyn, went on an adventure riding the rails of the Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad in Elbe, Washington.

It took us from Elbe to Mineral, where there is a museum that educates guests about the history of the logging railroad in the Pacific Northwest.

Our family was afforded this opportunity thanks to a fortuitous opportunity I have to write blogs for the Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad. We were given complimentary tickets so that we could go experience the train and, at the same time, I could research for my blog writing.

I’m so thankful that because of my job I’m able to entertain and educate my daughter at such a young, impressionable age. Jocelyn marveled at the cooing of the whistle blowing as the train coasted down the tracks south to the museum, transporting us back in time to a simpler era. Her eyes opened wide in awe of the new noise she was hearing.

It was enjoyable for my wife, Helen, and I to watch as our daughter enjoyed a new experience. We made sure to take lots of pictures!