The email came out of nowhere and it has already changed my life.
Last Friday morning, a friendly fellow had written a very complimentary message about this website. More importantly, he made me an offer:
“I came across your blog and wondered if you’d like to repost your list of 9 figures who opposed the Iraq War on The Huffington Post.”
As you can imagine, I was stunned. The Huffington Post? For real?
Yes. HuffingtonPost.com editor Seamus McKiernan was serious. When I first read his message that same Friday afternoon, it took me a nanosecond to think, “Hell, yeah!”
A couple of days later, he asked me to supply a personal head shot and a brief bio. Wow, I was going to have my own author page, something every contributor gets on HuffPo. This was unbelievable.
Then came a dose of reality. My original three-part series, 9 Public Figures Who Rightly Opposed The Second Iraq War, collectively runs more than 3600 words, far too long for HuffPo. Would I be willing to cut some of the quoted sections so it would fit on their site?
Uncharacteristically, I was ok with that. In fact, I had anticipated this from the start.
I say “uncharacteristically” because generally I hate to excise anything from a posted piece or even a submission, especially if I think it’s integral to the overall presentation. But what Seamus suggested I cut wasn’t any of my own words, just some of the comments & writings of the nine principled souls who went against the conventional “wisdom” of invading Iraq. As he noted in a subsequent email, “I think you could cut half or more of each of the quoted sections and still make those points. It’d read a little swifter, which would work well with our audience and keep their attention.”
I thought about it and realized that he was right, that the original series could be neatly condensed into a single piece of writing without losing its core essence. But by God, how hard it was to decide what to keep and what to remove in a process that took hours. Not helping matters was 1) my stubborn migraine (long story and unrelated to this wonderful opportunity) which meant being extra vigilant in the face of persistent pain, and 2) the distraction of the World Cup football tournament. (I’m feeling a bit better now thanks to my pal Aleve but the ache hasn’t completed vanished yet. I hope it does soon. I may have to up the dosage.)
In the end, I was very happy with this new Jenny Craiged version. After cutting more than 1500 words, it was sent back to Seamus who made some last-minute changes of his own. (Surprisingly, some quotes were fully restored or lengthened while some others disappeared. Everything else remained intact.)
Shortly after Noon yesterday, having not yet heard back from him (he emailed me not that long afterward), I impatiently Googled my name and Huffington Post, each in separate quotations. In an instant, there it was, the first hit in the search. I clicked it. I couldn’t wait to read the final result.
Now renamed 9 Public Figures Who Were Wrongly Maligned for Opposing The Iraq War, God damn it looks great. Seamus did a wonderful editing job. (There was only one small mistake that needed to be corrected. In the first Ron Paul quote, “Asia” was missing from “and Central” (I had actually cut those three words that were thankfully restored), but after bringing it to his attention, Seamus added it in. I always appreciate when editors do that. It shows they’re listening and they care.)
The best part was showing my Mom. She was thrilled. It’s been a while since I’ve heard her say to me, “I’m really proud of you.”
The day before the piece was posted, I made the announcement on Twitter and to my friends & family on Facebook. They were really happy for me and very supportive, as well. After it surfaced on HuffPo, I made sure they were all aware of its posting which led to more welcome support.
As of this writing, on HuffPo, the article has generated almost 50 comments (twice as many as my first Gene Simmons Family Jewels posting from 2011), it’s has been shared dozens of times through various social media sites & email, and it has been liked almost 300 times, unreal statistics for someone like me. The only statistic I don’t know is how many times it’s been accessed. Surely, that number, conservatively, is in the thousands.
As for the comments, well, unfortunately, there are more complaints about who I left out of the piece than its actual contents. Regarding retired Ohio Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich, another vocal opponent of the Iraq War who was endlessly ridiculed, one reader said, “It’s actually sickening that the leading voice against the war is left out of this article.”
That’s a little harsh. The article was by no means intended to be comprehensive. By God, how long it would be if I mentioned every single person, private citizens included, who exercised their Constitutional rights to protest the invasion? There’s no way HuffPo would’ve encouraged me to do that, nor should they! It was challenging enough editing down the quotes from the nine in the original 3-part series!
That said, how wonderful it is to have access to a whole new group of readers not at all familiar with the eight years I’ve been blogging, first on Windows Live Spaces and now WordPress. It’s a huge breakthrough for me, a major break in my career, and I could not be more thankful and appreciative to Seamus and The Huffington Post for this privilege. So far, this has been a very exciting and overwhelmingly positive experience.
Let’s hope it continues as I think about what to write next.
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Thursday, July 3, 2014