Writing columns and newsletters for 27 years

 On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter – January 3, 2020

  Glad To Be Here – Columnist Tom Blake On Life and Love after 50 column turns 27

In the final eNewsletter of 2019, I asked Champs to send me their questions, comments and experiences.

One woman asked, “Did you study journalism in college?”

Another woman emailed, “Why/how did you start writing about dating? What makes you an expert on relationships?”

I will answer the above two questions in today’s eNewsletter main column.

But first, a third question came from a man. He said, “After 33 years of marriage, I’m getting a divorce. What do you advise I do?”

My answer to him: “Take a deep breath. Are you certain the marriage can’t be salvaged? If you want advice from me and our Champs, you need to provide more details about yourself and what happened to your marriage.”

There are two parts to today’s eNewsletter.

                     Part 1 – Glad To Be Here – Tom’s column turns 27

On July 7, 1994, my first newspaper column was published. It appeared in the South County Lifestyles section of four Orange County Register community newspapers. The column will turn 27 on July 7 of this year.

The answer to question number one above, “I did not study journalism in college. The only writing course I had was while getting my MBA from the University of Michigan. It was a business letter-writing course taught by Professor Mary Bromage. She taught students to write tight, be concise and eliminate unnecessary words.

“So, no journalism school. Instead, I learned to write sitting on bar stools gathering research, while trying to meet women after my divorce.”

That sentence probably needs an explanation, especially for new Champs. Some of my long-time, loyal readers likely are familiar with this story. To them, I apologize for any boring repetition today.

Here’s how I began writing:

On Christmas Eve, 1993, my wife of six years, took what furniture and belongings she wanted from our Monarch Beach, California, home and moved out of my life. I was in Santa Rosa, north of San Francisco, visiting my 83-year-old mom.

I did not know about the move out. Oh, I knew we had some issues to discuss, but most couples do. I found out the morning after Christmas, when she telephoned me at Mom’s.

On the drive home, I had a notepad in my lap. When you’ve got nine hours to drive, knowing your spouse has bailed out, a million thoughts go through your mind.

Being very careful while driving (I guess back then it was equivalent to today’s texting while driving, not a good idea,) I jotted those thoughts down. The first item on my mind: What about my dogs, Amy and Kira? Were they gone? Were they still there? Had they been fed or left water for two days?

The next item: Why did she leave without us discussing it first?

Although I wasn’t a writer, by trip’s end, I had a mishmash of notes on the notepad. I had no idea those notes would be the start of a writing career.

When I opened the garage door, the dogs barked. They were okay. We were happy to see each other.

A month later, during lunchtime at Tutor and Spunky’s, my Dana Point deli, in front of customers and employees, instead of serving sandwiches, I was the one served. With divorce papers!

That night, I jotted down my thoughts in what had become a soon-to-be-divorced-man’s diary. I wrote, “Today, getting served was the last straw. I’m going to begin dating immediately.”

I was 54 and thought dating would be a snap, with a plethora of single women coming through the deli doors. What a rude awakening. Younger female deli customers wouldn’t date me. In fact, women, regardless of age, wouldn’t date me.

As I sat on bar stools at Brio, Hennessey’s and other local Dana Point singles’ hangouts, looking for love, I’d add the dating misadventures on cocktail napkins, and then nightly when I got home, I’d put the notes into the diary. It was on those bar stools where I started to write.

After five months, I used the diary notes to write a short story. I edited the material multiple times. It was 74 pages. I thought, maybe, I could get the story published.

I sent query letters to The New York TimesPlayboy Magazine and Esquire. No response. The Orange County Register recommended I contact the Dana Point News, the Register’s community paper.

After reading my material, the two women editors—Sherrie Good and Dixie Redfearn–agreed to a meeting at their office.

At the meeting, their opening question: “What do you have in mind for our newspaper?”

I had no idea, so I just blurted out, “Maybe I could do a dating-after-50 column from the man’s-point-of-view.”

They said, “That’s what we were thinking. You are whining and complaining so much about the cost of dating, and being rejected by all sorts of women, we feel the single, middle-aged women of Orange County will have a field day reading your woe-is-me misadventures.”

The first column was titled: “Home alone, with only dogs for company.”

Sherrie and Dixie were right about the anticipated responses from women readers.

The first comment: “Who is this sniveling puke?”

The second: “He complains that younger women won’t go out with him. It’s a wonder any woman will go out with him.”

Welcome to the mid-life dating trenches, Tom.

I wrote for the OC Register and 10 of its community papers for 17 years.

Nine years ago, I was blessed to join the team at Picket Fence Media—the publishers of the Dana Point TimesSan Clemente Times and The Capistrano Dispatch. I am very lucky to have this incredible opportunity to write for print newspapers. How so?

On Tuesday, July 3, 2018, the Boston Globe newspaper published an article by Evan Horowitz titled, “Even fishing and coal mining are not losing jobs as fast as the newspaper industry.”

Horowitz stated, “Nearly 300 English-language daily newspapers have disappeared from the US landscape in the past 20 years…Florida, California, New Jersey, and Michigan have each lost roughly 70 percent of their newspaper jobs.”

So, I’m very fortunate to still have my articles printed by three vibrant print newspapers, published by a hard-working staff.

The number of columns and eNewsletters I’ve written in 27 years—4,000+.

My divorce launched a rewarding writing career. It brought two appearances on the Today Show and an appearance on Good Morning America. I’ve authored four books. And more importantly, it opened the door for me to meet Greta, a partner with whom I’ve shared many incredible experiences in the 22 years we’ve been together.

Tom, Greta and Diane Sawyer, June 8, 2005, on the set of Good Morning America after Diane interviewed Tom

Have things changed on the dating scene in 27 years? Not too much, it’s still more difficult for women to meet men vs. men trying to meet women. New things include romance scams, thousands of online dating sites, more widows, more widowers and catch-phrases like ghosting, bread crumbed and LAT relationships.

Now, instead of writing about dating after 50, which is where the column’s original focus began, the scope includes dating after 60, 70, 80, and even 90.

In answering the second question at the top of today’s article, Am I a dating expert? The answer is no. Our Champs are the experts; I’m just the conduit to readers.

With your help and inputs, in the 2020 weekly issues of this eNewsletter, we’ll explore more changes and relationship issues. And hopefully, we’ll help some older singles meet mates.

As former U.S. Navy Blue Angel pilot John Foley states in his recently published book, Fearless Success, his daily mindset thinking, which he feels has contributed to his success, is, “Glad To Be Here.”

I like that. And I’m “Glad To Be Here” as well.

Former Navy Blue Angel pilot, John Foley, has written a book about how he and other Blue Angels cope with their precision flying maneuvers. Foley begins his day stating “Glad To Be Here.”

Part 2 – January 2020 Meet and Greet

The first Meet and Greet for people age 50-plus will be at Tutor and Spunky’s Deli, 34085 Pacific Coast Highway, Dana Point, California, 92629, on Thursday, January 23, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. No admission cost. Complementary appetizers, beer and wine, $5 per glass.

Author: Tom Blake

Tom Blake is a newspaper columnist in south Orange County, California. He has published five books. His primary topic is finding love after 50 and beyond, sometimes far beyond, for people 80 and older as well. He also blogs about travel at TravelAfter55.com.

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