It started one early winter night at the Theater on King when I said in anguish to a surprised audience, “I’m a professional writer, but I haven’t written anything important in over a year.”
It was at the end of a poetry slam featuring several young people who bravely bared their thoughts and feelings to an audience attending the Precarious Festival. I was taken by the raw honesty and intensity of their words and I suddenly saw myself as a writer who, somewhere, had lost his own voice and direction.
For nearly twenty years I have been telling other people’s stories. First with my own brand, popcultureaddict.com, and then spent seven happy years working as an arts and culture journalist in my hometown of Peterborough, Ontario. But as 2020 dawned I was questioning my own voice, my legacy as a writer, and just what stories I wanted to tell.
And then the COVID-19 pandemic hit, and life was changed for everyone.
In the early days of the pandemic, as I watched the arts community I love so much seem to dissipate overnight, I found myself suddenly displaced, ghosted, depressed and feeling that I was a writer without an audience, without a voice, and without a platform. It was a lonely and desperate time for me.
To pass the time I started to read books written by powerful voices that move me. I started with Toni Morrison and moved on to Alice Walker. I revisited the works of my original inspirations – Truman Capote, Roland Barthes, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. These were people who had things to say, and whose narratives continue to inspire through the generations.
And with all their words floating through my head, one day I found myself aimlessly wandering through East City when I had an epiphany. In every culture throughout time, there have been the storytellers – the people who record and repeat the stories of their society. They are the historians, the entertainers, the prophets, and the knowledge-sharers.
It has always been easy for me to have people tell me their stories. From award-winning entertainers who are household names, to people you’ve never heard of, telling their stories comes so naturally to me. Weaving their experiences into compelling narratives is my gift. Perhaps it’s not just a job. Perhaps that gift was given to me from a higher power. Perhaps telling stories is my purpose.
So welcome to SamTweedle.com.
This is the new part of my journey where I want to continue telling people’s stories. I’ll be revisiting my past work and doing new celebrity interviews after a long break from that kind of work. But I will still be focusing on telling stories of people in my own community. But now, with no boundaries or borders, I can tell all the stories wherever that takes me. My connections are endless, and I’ll be telling stories from far away places as well as just down the street.
But what SamTweedle.com means is that every story told is a representation of my own voice and my own brand of storytelling. Over twenty years you’ve come to expect a certain quality of work from me, and I plan to bring that sense of honesty and positivity to every story I tell. These words are my own, and they represent my brand. Don’t be confused about where they originate from. If you know me, you know I have a lot to say, and I’m long-winded.
And now, for the first time, just perhaps, it’s time to tell a few stories of my own. Watch this space each week for my own thoughts and observations. I can’t always promise it’ll be brilliant, but I promise it’ll be honest. I want to be more transparent than I’ve ever been allowed to be before, and no longer hide behind a logo or a corporation. That’s why it’s called samtweedle.com. I was born with a name that is memorable and unique. It’s time to use it.
Leaving the past behind and taking on a new venture is tedious and scary, but I want to thank everyone who has encouraged me and supported me over the past few weeks as I’ve changed my entire life.
First, I should give thanks to Kristine Williams and Jefrey Holmes who, for years, have encouraged me to go out on my own again and return to my past of doing pop culture interviews. In 2019 I retained nearly 300 of my pop culture interviews which hadn’t been online since 2017. I’m proud to say that each week I’ll be representing one of these articles on samtweedle.com, rebuilding the archive of what was once my greatest work.
I want to also thank other special people who encouraged me through this process. A special thanks to Natalie Dorsett who got my brain running and encouraged me to take the leap. Thank you to friends Mandy Rose, Altaire Gural, Avery Cantello, Griz Morrison, Frank Flynn, Samantha Moss, Katnya Lipinski, Clay Hill, Carol Summers and my mother, Cathy Tweedle, who talked me through it. You give me confidence and you are my people.
And a thank you out to Amy Keller, owner of Sprinkles in downtown Peterborough (right under the clock tower on George St. Go in and get some treats and tell her I said “hello”) who gave me the free ice cream the day all the pieces started to fit. That ice cream has become the symbol of good things and new beginnings. The smallest act of kindness sometimes is the glue that holds the world together.
But the biggest shout out goes to my pal Martin Boruta who literally made SamTweedle.com come alive virtually overnight. His kindness and determination to help create this new venture is something that really went far beyond all expectations, and I’m forever thankful for the gift of creating a new platform for my continuing work.
So, this is it. I have some stories to tell. Stay tuned to this space for good things to come.
Here we go! Huzzah!