Former Winter Park Manifest editor finds life after journalism as an author
July 9, 2009
Chance Conner hadn’t written a word in more than a year when he picked up the book “Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life” by Anne Lamott.
Conner is a career journalist whose life steered him away from the newsroom. Without deadlines and the adrenaline of the big story, Conner was rudderless.
Conner was the editor of the Winter Park Manifest until August 2005. After he left, he said, “I was fed up. I didn’t know what I wanted to do.”
A friend, Diane Carmen, former columnist for the Denver Post, gave him a copy of “Bird by Bird.”
“It inspired me,” he said. “It’s not just about writing, but about life. It’s a spiritual book in some ways about getting older.
“It woke me up.”
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He sat down at his laptop with new resolve and began the novel he’d always wanted to write, but was never sure he could.
“I decided, who cares if you sell a single book. Just write it,” he said. It poured out of him. He finished the first draft in seven months.
“I had a general idea of the story,” he said. “Once the process began, it took on a life of its own. It’s a remarkable thing.”
The first 40 pages were the hardest to write, because it was new territory. It was outside of his comfort zone. But he kept writing.
“The characters came to life,” he said, “and were doing things I hadn’t even planned for them to do.”
He wrote every morning at home, then wrote in the afternoon at the Fraser Valley Library just to have some human contact.
His book, “Career Killer” tells the story of journalist Jack Clancy. It follows Clancy through his coverage of several major news events – the Challenger explosion, the JonBenet Ramsey murder, the Oklahoma City bombings, Columbine and Sept. 11.
As a journalist himself, Conner covered the JonBenet Ramsey murder and the Oklahoma City bombing trial in Denver, and had close friends who covered Columbine.
“It was a hell of a time for events, especially in Colorado,” Conner said. “Without being provincial, Colorado was at the center of the news. It was a golden era of journalism that’s long gone.”
The title of Conner’s book is “Career Killer,” but it was originally called “Career Saboteur.” Clancy is a heavy drinker who gets great opportunities, but sabotages himself.
“In the old style of journalism, everyone drank, but it’s not like that anymore,” Conner said. “He ends up realizing it’s affecting his life and he sobers up.”
The ending, Conner said, is bittersweet, but leads right into the storyline of his second book about the main character buying a small newspaper in Carbondale.
“Career Killer” will be available at Saturday’s book signing or can be purchased online at Amazon.com or Barnesandnoble.com.
– To reach Autumn Phillips call 887-3334 ext. 19600 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.