Milestones: A Writer’s Reward

Tim Van Schmidt | New SCENE

I recently took a step that I would like to share. In other words, last week’s article – the one on a fine arts party – was the 104th article I have published in the North Forty News/New Scene Weekly. That’s two full years of columns in NOCO’s independent weekly.

Now let me add this little tidbit – I wrote them all for free. That’s right, North Forty News didn’t pay me anything for this. But before you go to their office and start picketing for copyrights, I want you to know that it was all my pleasure.

I am proud to support this publication. It is an essential part of NOCO, which provides local information by local people.

This stint specifically with the New Scene Weekly began in the spring of 2020, just as the pandemic was beginning. And there couldn’t have been a better kind of therapy for me during this weird, weird time than writing. And write. And write more.

Here’s the thing. I consider myself a “natural born writer”. It’s just what I do – I love to write and publish and even though I was making a full-time living out of my writing at one point, money was never really the goal.

And from the very beginning of my career, I never waited to get there. If someone else didn’t post my stuff, then I’ll post it, one way or another, on my own. I don’t just support independent publishing, I do.

My very first self-published pieces were actually comic books.

Ferdinand Man 1970 comic strip by Tim Van Schmidt

In the summer of 1970, I worked in the dining hall at Boy Scout camp in northern Arizona. Right next to the front door was a bulletin board and I saw an opportunity. I created a superhero named “Ferdinand Man”, told his story in comic book style, and posted each “episode” for everyone to see while they stuffed their food.

In 1972, I first had the taste of being published by a real newspaper in high school in California.

I remember that first post. It was about an interview I did with the drummer of a band from Louisiana called Potliquor. I called the record company, went to the famous Sunset Strip nightclub, Whiskey A Go Go, to do the interview, and wrote down the results. I was VERY excited the day the newspaper came out and could hardly believe my eyes when my signature finally appeared in the newspaper.

In college, I published a bunch of poetry in “little magazines” across the country and waited anxiously for my contributor copies to arrive in my mailbox.

But between the mailing of these magazines, there was a lull. Until the day when a friend told me boldly that he was going to publish a collection of poetry. He typed up his stuff, went to the copy shop, then distributed his work to everyone he knew.

That’s when I discovered the beauty of copiers as an editing tool and did the same.

That’s pretty much what I did when I moved to Fort Collins. Inspired by the hardcore punk underground publishing movement, I started by creating my own little ‘zines’ and distributing them in friendly places around town.

First issue of Beat News & Music 1992 (edited by Tim Van Schmidt)

I continued to do so until one day the young editor of a start-up newspaper, The Mason Street Oracle, called me and invited me to submit an article for their inaugural issue. Shortly after, I received a call from the local newspaper. I ended up posting something in just about every rag in town.

Zine 1987 by Tim Van Schmidt

However, I still had an excess of creative energy and when The Oracle folded, I led the charge to create The Scene, co-founding it with three other partners in 1990. I had completed my obsession with the publishing – I had my own journal.

Poetry collection 1978 by Tim Van Schmidt

Two years later, feeling itchy, I founded another journal – Beat News and Music – and kept going.

And that’s how it’s been over the years – posting stuff in other publications while putting my own stuff there too.

First High School Paper 1972 by Tim Van Schmidt

When publisher Blaine Howerton came to take over the North Forty News, he also took over The Scene, or Scene Magazine as it was then called. The pandemic hit and he was forced to tuck Scene into North Forty just to survive. That’s where I came in. What an opportunity – to resume writing a publication I had helped start 30 years earlier.

This article makes 105 pieces published. I am so thrilled to be involved with this independent publication – it has produced some of the best writing of my career. And I always post my own stuff on my YouTube channel, “Time Capsules by Tim Van Schmidt”.

Every time a new article appears in the newspaper, I’m just as excited as I was in high school. The real truth is that every article I write is a milestone that I celebrate. My ultimate reward is to hold this diary in my hands and see my signature in ink. Thanks to North Forty News!

Visit “Time Capsules by Tim Van Schmidt” on YouTube.

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