Celebrating 10 Years of Writing for the Brandon Sun
Brandon Sun, September 8, 2014 - David McConkey
I was then working as the general manager of Westman Recycling. I had gotten to know Chester though business. Westman Recycling was a recycler of Sun newspapers and a buyer of Sun advertising. Somehow Chester got the idea that I should write a column for the paper. He was aiming high. He was looking for insightful, sparkling slices of observation, reflection and humour. Easy to imagine, hard to do. But I have embraced that vision as a continuing inspiration.
I started off at the Sun’s “Brandon Shopper and News.” Editor Grant Hamilton coined the handy title “Citizen Active.” I could submit columns whenever I wanted, which meant they were quite sporadic. After a couple of years, the “Shopper” morphed into the “Community News Edition.” With the new format I would need to meet a regular monthly schedule. I have kept to the timetable. Writing is like life in general: more happens with a deadline. In 2007, I moved to the Sun’s editorial page.
Thank you, Brandon Sun, for this wonderful opportunity. It is an honour to be part of the community’s conversation and its historic paper of record. Sun staffers have been cordial and supportive. Like the aforementioned Chester (now retired) and Hamilton (now the Sun’s Internet co-ordinator). I feel like an “old-timer” when I remember others who have helped in various ways over the years but have since left, such as editorial page editor Robson Fletcher, copy editor Perry Bergson, and managing editor James O’Connor. My main contact is with copy editors Leslie Bryde, John Hughes and Steven Martins. They labour behind the scenes. They take my e-mailed submissions and prepare them for print – ensuring Canadian Press standards and accompanied by an apt headline.
My life has changed greatly over the past decade. In 2006, Westman Recycling – and my job – evaporated. The cause was a dramatic two-point meltdown. First, there was a stunning collapse of our recycling markets. Then, there was a surprising collapse of our partnership with the City of Brandon.
After the shutdown of Westman Recycling, however, I experienced an unexpected sense of relief. I only then realized just how frustrating and stressful the job had been. In the years since, I have been fortunate in getting satisfying consulting, writing and editing work. As a freelance writer, the Internet has been doubly rewarding. The Net is a rich research resource. As well, it is a platform that eclipses traditional media in range, reach and revenue.
“Citizen Active” is an all-encompassing theme. The world is a most fascinating place and I am curious about almost everything. I get great pleasure from observing, learning and writing. I especially enjoy the polishing and proofreading stage of the writing process. My wife Meg peruses every column, performing an indispensable editing role. She finds the darndest things that need to be improved!
Writing for me has been an avenue to discover and grow. In 2007, Hamilton invited me to contribute to the special 125-year anniversary edition of the Brandon Sun. That sparked an ongoing journey to explore and chronicle the heritage of the city and region. Another opportunity for me continues to be reading and reviewing thought-provoking books.
I write what I myself would enjoy reading. And I hope what others would enjoy reading, too.
In reminiscing, I picked out one favourite column from each year. I relish variety. For example, in 2012, I recalled a Brandon city police scandal from a century ago. In 2009, in perhaps my all-time favourite, I recounted a delightful conversation with Sun “editor emeritus” Fred McGuinness.
I fondly look back at the past 10 years. I eagerly look forward to the future. And I very much hope you will continue to join me.
2004: How I Spent My Summer Vacation
2005: A Few Reflections On Skunk And Junk
2006: Tomorrow, Buy Nothing
2007: Adventures In Film-making
2008: No Ordinary Walk In The Park
2009: Memoir Man a Born Storyteller
2010: Tax Time Offers Folks a Chance to Reflect
2011: Issues for the Next Election?
2012: Prostitution . . . in Brandon?
2013: Ways to Leave a Legacy
Send me an email
My Sites / Interests
- Citizen Active
- The Great War
- Live Well, Do Good
- Manitoba History
- Obituary Guide
- The War on Drugs
Some Reviewed Books:
The War on Drugs:
A Failed Experiment
The Atheist Muslim:
A Journey from Religion to Reason
Stranger Than We Can Imagine:
An Alternative History of the 20th Century
Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now
Islam and the Future of Tolerance:
The Greatest Show on Earth:
The Evidence for Evolution