by Joyce Marcel
November 4, 2010
DUMMERSTON -- Last week, the Brattleboro Reformer, my home paper, not only fired me, they fired my mother.
The Reformer wants "to go in a different direction" and has dropped my column. But Tom D'Errico, the editor, has graciously allowed me to write a last goodbye. So here goes.
First of all, the truth is that I never wrote this column for the Reformer. I wrote for the Reformer's readers, who are the most remarkable collection of informed, opinionated, intelligent, kind and compassionate people I have ever known.
As a freelance writer in Vermont, I'm not ashamed to say that I've taken a vow of poverty.
But having readers is a writer's dream, and how many of us are blessed, as I have been, with being told almost every single day that something they wrote touched somebody, or that someone has one of their columns on their refrigerator, or that they sent one on to a friend?
A few weeks ago, someone actually e-mailed me, "Joyce - Love you to death" before disagreeing passionately with something I'd said in print.
Last month, while I was sitting in a corner at the Orlando airport, licking my wounds, emotionally and physically exhausted from packing up my mother's house and moving her to a retirement home, a man I'd never met walked over and said he understood where I was coming from because he had read about it in my columns.
So I'm grateful to you, the people in Windham County, who respond so wonderfully to my work.
I'm grateful to you for reading and enjoying the many (some say too many) columns I've written about my mother, a performer who, frankly, enjoys reading about herself. Since I started writing about her, I've gladly become the repository of many people's mother stories - some moving, some informative, some thought-provoking, some deeply sad and some triumphant. I'm grateful for all of them.
I'm grateful for the company I've been allowed to keep. The Reformer's columnists are a fine bunch of writers. I mean you, Richard Davis, writing about the politics of health. And you, Meg Mott, writing about the philosophy of life. And you Patti Smith, writing about your beavers and life in the natural world,
There's Chris Petrak on birds, Alex Wilson on green living, the fearless Diana Whitney, who tells it like it is about parenting, the warm and wonderful Julie Potter on food, Frank Behrens - the man who turned me on to "A Touch of Frost" which became an obsession, the quite insane Fish who is the persona of the serious, emotional and funny Peter Case, and many more.
You know, I'm even grateful for the people who absolutely hate my work - and that includes the politician who recently threatened to sue me - because, damn it, they're still reading me.
I've been called - in print - a "preventable disaster," "ideological," "a complete jerk," "a traitor to her country" and "cheap." One woman wrote, "Marcel's almost mystical lack of logic or consistency makes her writing so weirdly compelling."
"I lost confidence in Joyce's ability to make informed political commentary quite some time ago," someone wrote recently on iBrattleboro.com - but then he/she revealed he/she still keeps a column of mine which he/she hates on his/her desk.
Mostly, I'm grateful for the Brattleboro Reformer, which has allowed me to have a voice in Windham County for almost 18 years.
Now I guess I'm going in a different direction, too. So thank you all.
'Bye.< Joyce Marcel (joycemarcel.com) is a journalist and columnist. You can reach her at email@example.com.