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Farewell — my notebook is full

Dickinson County News - Staff Photo - Create Article
Seth Boyes - News Editor

My notebook is full.

My pen has run dry.

The S key on my keyboard sticks sometimes.

It's getting worn out — and after eight years at a news desk, I'm not surprised. Things don't last forever, you know.

Keyboards. Shoes…even editors.

The decision to "depart this station" — as former Spirit Lake Beacon Editor Art Lorch used to say before heading home — was made all the more difficult by the many connections and friendships that have come with the years. It was a decision which meant months of keeping secrets from those same friends and colleagues until my family and I were sure of things. In turn, my camera and my notebook have been the only witnesses as this reporter savored his last hurrahs in silence…and stifled a few not-so-silent sobs at his desk from time to time after everyone else had left for the night.

Goodbyes are hard in any field, but I've come to believe they are especially hard among those of us who share an unspoken bond as we sit side by side — week after week — pouring our energy onto the written page and collecting ourselves from each edition's post-deadline dregs, only to do it all over again until we relish the struggle.

But there is a final edition for each of us — and today is mine.

It's been eight years since I hastily changed clothes in my car behind the Spencer Daily Reporter, just hoping to make a good impression during my job interview. I had no idea what I was getting myself into then — perhaps few of us ever do — but my soon-to-be newspaper family took a chance on that inexperienced 29-year-old and built him up into someone capable of bearing the title of News Editor come 2021.

By the time this desk became mine, I knew all their tutelage would see me through, but I was also secretly worried I'd buckle under the weekly weight of everything this newspaper's 150-year legacy requires of the person in this chair. I've certainly felt some thin cracks spreading across my shoulders the last several years, and I got a few scars along the way, but it's the scrapes and bruises as much as it is the joys and triumphs that showed me how worthwhile this job has been — and will continue to be for this community.

In a way, I suppose the paper's intimidating legacy became a strength that was passed down through the little things — for it's often the little things we remember most.

When I arrived at work on Jan. 26, of 2021, I found what we call The Penny of Zen standing on its edge in front of my keyboard. It was a memento left by my predecessor, former Managing Editor Russ Mitchell, who used it to remind himself of a reporter's role — Lincoln's profile for honesty in reporting, two heads of wheat for the information one must glean in order to write a worthwhile story, with both sides held in perfect balance.

That penny now sits on someone else's desk, and that desk sits in what is now someone else's office. But the message remains the same and will help guide those who help helm the DCN as they learn to relish the weekly struggle.

Some days the job will drain you. On others, it will invigorate you. And, every so often, it will inexplicably do both at the same time — most often when you can see just how much a story needs to be told, and that it needs to be told well. Grieving families have trusted this paper with their stories, so that others might avoid the same experiences. Lawmakers have taken countless phone calls from this desk, so that readers will know how decisions in Des Moines and D.C. might affect life in the Lakes Area. Young students have overcome their nerves across a restaurant table and shared their stories of hard work and perseverance, so that their peers can succeed as well.

It's those kinds of stories that spur us news-folk to chronicle our communities the way we do — not for ourselves, but for you, the reader.

It's always been about you, dear reader.

Because a newspaper which looks only inward — looks only to itself rather than to the community it serves — is a newspaper which will soon cease to roll off the press at all.

It has to be about others.

And that's the solace I take in releasing the reigns I've held on this paper's news pages.

As my family and I have quietly made preparations to start the next chapter of our lives, we've been pleased to see pleasant surprises continue popping up — points of light in the dusk if you will. We've learned at several points that our leaving the place we've called home for nearly a decade will actually open doors for some families who more recently made Dickinson County their home — some of whom I first got to know through my reporting.

It's the type of thing my old Sunday School teacher would have called providence rather than luck, and it's what tells me that my family and I have made the right decision. This may be the end of a chapter, but it isn't an end withered with fatigue and resignation. It's an end in the same sense of a fruit that falls from a tree — full and ripe, ready to begin the cycle again.

So it's with a glad heart that I can say thank you, Dickinson County, for all the stories you entrusted to me during my time here.

My notebook is full.

My pen has run dry.

The S key on my keyboard sticks sometimes.

And my memories of this place and these people will stick with me forever.

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