Making the Leap from Media Executive to Debut Novelist

Hi everyone, I’ve got a new episode of Everything I’ve Learned this week, an in-depth conversation with Dawnie Walton, author of The Final Revival of Opal & Nev.

It’s her (excellent) debut novel — the story of a rock duo that rises to fame in 1970s New York City. Walton worked as a journalist and media executive before the story of Opal Jewel inspired her to go all-in on pursuing her dream:

I was working full-time, and I would wake up at like 5 a.m. and try to squeeze in some writing time before I had to get ready to go to work. If I wasn’t too tired at the end of the day, I would also write at the end of the day.

It was an idea that gripped me, more than any idea has ever gripped me. And that’s what kept me coming back to that computer. I probably shouldn’t admit this, I was thinking about while I was at meetings at my job, I was thinking about it when I was cooking dinner.

If you open the notes in my phone, they’re like a disaster of old notes and little ideas that I wanted to jot down. I was working on this novel around the edges of my day. Until it reached a point where I felt like, I’m ready to devote more to this. 

You can listen and subscribe at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you like to listen.

Hope you’re all having a good week,


About this Newsletter and Podcast

Everything I've Learned podcast

Mark Armstrong is the founder of Longreads and producer/host of Everything I’ve Learned, a podcast about lessons, mistakes, and other turning points. You’ll receive this newsletter every couple weeks. You can subscribe to the podcast at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you like to listen.

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Seattle: Remote Work City

downtown Seattle
Photo: wonderlane, Flickr

I wrote an op-ed for this weekend’s Seattle Times about Seattle’s worsening traffic, and one very simple idea for cutting the number of cars on the road each day:

Let’s work from home.

Telecommuting is an inexpensive way to get single-occupancy vehicles off the freeways, but it’s going to take city, county, and state leadership to convince companies and CEOs to commit to it. (I would suggest federal, too, but well, you know.) Continue reading “Seattle: Remote Work City”

‘For eight years Barack Obama walked on ice and never fell.’

Photo via barackobamadotcom

Obama was born into a country where laws barring his very conception—let alone his ascendancy to the presidency—had long stood in force. A black president would always be a contradiction for a government that, throughout most of its history, had oppressed black people. The attempt to resolve this contradiction through Obama—a black man with deep roots in the white world—was remarkable. The price it exacted, incredible. The world it gave way to, unthinkable.

-From Ta-Nehisi Coates’s history of the Obama presidency, in The Atlantic.

‘With Child’: Kiera Feldman on a Pregnancy in South Dakota

Ashley arrived for her prenatal appointment at Black Hills Obstetrics and Gynecology, in Rapid City, South Dakota, wearing a black zip-up hoodie and Converse sneakers.1 To explain her absence from work that morning — a Tuesday in April 2015 — she had told a co-worker that she was having “female issues.” She was twenty-five years old and eight weeks pregnant. She had been separated from her husband, with whom she had a five-year-old son, for the better part of a year. The guy who’d gotten her pregnant was someone she’d met at the gym, and he’d made it abundantly clear that he wanted nothing more to do with her. Ashley found herself hoping that the doctor would discover some kind of fetal defect, so that her decision would be easier. She glanced across the waiting room at a television playing a birth-control ad and laughed darkly. “Jesus, Lord, it would be so nice if someone just pushed me down a flight of stairs.”

-In Harper’s, Kiera Feldman reports from Rapid City, South Dakota, one of the most restrictive states in the country when it comes to ending a pregnancy.

Words Matter!

When you are a leader, your words will be heard.

Your followers will be emboldened by those words, and they will act on them.

These followers will have good and bad intentions.

All the more reason to choose your words wisely.

Facts also matter.

If you take care to traffic only in real things, you build credibility for your words and your actions.

If facts don’t matter to you, then it makes it hard for anyone to believe you!

Nothing you say will hold any weight.

Followers will interpret your words as they please.

Detractors will assume the worst.

You must live with those consequences when facts don’t matter to you.

The rest of us have to live with those consequences, too.


Photo by jessmercer