It’s been a wonderful first year with J.T., filled with so much growth, and as I reflect on where the blog is now compared to where it began, I think it’s time to place ‘the year in review’ to recognize the next chapter for The L.A. Storyteller!
To do this, I want to briefly consider the time-frame at which so many blogs find themselves at, as well as where I’m at personally a year after graduating from college and making my way through Adult-land.
It’s such a tough time for the publishing world, and for all of the writers and editors and other literary geeks who comprise it. With the market continuing to shrink each day, more and more writers and publications are forced to create ‘viral’ content for hits rather than what I’d call vital content for feeling, and this makes for a muddled world of click-bait and generic content to navigate through for people seeking a meaningful connection with words out there.
At first, even I thought that viral content is what J.T. would acquiesce to. Through August and September 2014, I thought my site would be a place where folks could go to learn about concerts, art shows, and other gatherings in the city. This definitely generated some hits or visits, but eventually, near the end of October 2014, I was fortunate to hear a friend tell me not to worry about the number of visits, but to concern myself instead with the substance of what visitors would find.
This freed me from the exhausting search for ‘events’ and other click-bait, and allowed me to simply be more internal with what I’d share with people. Then it hit me: J.T. would be about people! And in particular, it’d be about people within my community.
This is where the ‘Friends’ section got to shine. I loved writing about why the people of my community were so groovy, and showing readers how L.A. could be found through so many different yet similar experiences between its individuals.
Not long after ‘Friends’, the Letters section came into the picture. With letters, I just wrote straight to friends in a flow of affection for their taking the time to read my voice in print, and it was gorgeous; my friends enjoyed having their names printed on the pages of the site, and because their friends enjoyed ‘old-fashioned’ letters too, it was an awesome experience all-around.
As November rolled around, I featured Letters, Friends, and photos for people to enjoy in their moments with JIMBO TIMES, but I knew that I still wanted to take things even farther. Based on feedback for my photos, I realized that I particularly wanted to take things to the next level with my images on the site.
By December of 2014, with both Letters and Friends, I garnered enough attention to launch a fundraiser for the site. I went after a new camera to capture the city of L.A., and I was met with love for this pursuit.
The people of my community generously supported my goal with their donations, and come January, I purchased a Canon 5D and a 50 mm lens to go along with it. I loved my new 5D, and took it with me everywhere like a natural extension of J.T.
As a result, this meant just a little more photography for the website rather than writing. Of course, by ‘a little more’, I mean that the whole month of February and much of March were far for more about sharing L.A. photography with the people! After so much shooting, when April rolled around, I put my website to the side as I found myself caught up with other adventures, including time with middle and high school students through The Plus Me Project, and time with faith in Los Feliz through the Beautiful Gate community.
It was a fun time, culminating in an awesome end of the school-year celebration, when from out of nowhere, I got accepted to the Voices of Our Nation writing program at Miami for the summer. Suddenly, the months of May and June coalesced into a blur before VONA approached. At the same time, I found a new family with the InsideOUT Writers program, which placed The L.A. Storyteller on a new set of adventures: at IOW we wrote together, had craw-fish together, went to the beach together, and so much more.
Then VONA came, and I hopped on the bus to reach the city of Miami. I had no idea what I’d find there, but it was brilliant. In Miami, I met an outpouring of beautiful writers that welcomed the voice of The L.A. Storyteller, each of whom encouraged me to ‘write on’, and whose voices I similarly found myself drawn to support.
At the same time, in seeing so much of the country through my journey to and from the South, I literally saw just how much I was capable of navigating through. The country was vast, and it was scary! But I was more vast, and I met the fear with the determination to get through it.
Ultimately, I made it back home, but it was more than just that: In July I came back home changed by my experience with VONA and Miami, and more determined than ever to take my work to the next level.
I’m still at that place now, and it’s a magnificent world. My eyes are open, and I see more opportunities than ever before with JIMBO TIMES. As a friend put it to me the other day, ‘there are [still] mountains before hills’, but the mountains are magnificent, and I’m absolutely ready to embark on my journey through them. In the next post, I’ll have more for readers on just what this will look like, and how J.T.’s fans can show their support!