Milestones: A Writer’s Reward

North Forty News Issues 2021

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Tim Van Schmidt  |  New SCENE


I recently passed a milestone that I’d like to share. That is, last week’s article — the one about a feast of fine art — was the 104th piece that I have published in the North Forty News/New Scene Weekly. That’s a full two years’ worth 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 a dime for any of it. But before you go to their office and start picketing for writer’s rights, I want you to know that it has all been my pleasure.

I’m proud to support this publication. It’s a NOCO essential, providing local news by local people.

This stint specifically with the New Scene Weekly all started in the spring of 2020, just when the pandemic was kicking in. And there couldn’t have been a better kind of therapy for me during this weird, weird time than to write. And write. And write some more.

Here’s the thing. I consider myself a “natural born writer”. It’s just what I do — I love writing and publishing and while I did make a full-time living with my writing at one point, the money was never really the point. 

And from the very beginning of my career, I have never waited to make it happen. If someone else wasn’t publishing my stuff, then I would publish it, somehow, some way, by myself. I don’t just support independent publishing, I do it.

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

Ferdinand Man Comic Strip 1970 by Tim Van Schmidt

In the summer of 1970, I was working at the dining hall of the Boy Scout camp in northern Arizona. Right by the front door was a bulletin board and I saw an opportunity. I created a superhero named “Ferdinand Man”, told his story in comic strip style and posted each “episode” for all to see while they were filing in to get their grub.

In 1972, I got my first taste of being published by an actual newspaper in high school in California.

I remember that first article. It was about an interview I did with the drummer for a Louisiana band called Potliquor. I called the record company, went to the famous Sunset Strip nightclub, the Whisky A Go Go, to do the interview, and wrote up the results. I was VERY excited the day the paper came out and could hardly believe my eyes when my byline finally appeared in newsprint.

In college, I published a bunch of poetry in “little magazines” throughout the country and I would anxiously wait for my contributor copies to arrive in my post box.

But in between getting those magazines in the mail, there was a lull. Until one day a friend said boldly to me that he was going to publish a poetry collection. 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 copy machines as a publishing device and I 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 began by making my own little “zines” and distributed them at friendly places around town.

First Issue of Beat News & Music 1992 (Edited by Tim Van Schmidt)

I kept doing it until one day the young editor of a start-up newspaper, The Mason Street Oracle, called me up and invited me to submit a piece for their inaugural issue. Soon after that, I got a call from the local daily paper. I eventually was publishing something in just about every rag in town.

Zine 1987 by Tim Van Schmidt

However, I still had some excess creative energy and when The Oracle folded, I lead the charge to create The Scene, co-founding it with three other partners in 1990. I had made my obsession with publishing complete — I had my own newspaper. 

Poetry Collection 1978 by Tim Van Schmidt

Two years later, feeling itchy, I founded another newspaper — Beat News and Music — and just kept on going.

And so it has gone throughout the years — publishing stuff in other publications while putting my own stuff out there as well.

First high school article 1972 by Tim Van Schmidt

When publisher Blaine Howerton came to take over the North Forty News, he also ended up taking over The Scene, or Scene Magazine as it was called then. The pandemic hit and he was forced to fold Scene into North Forty just to survive. That was where I came in. What an opportunity — to return to writing for a publication I had helped start 30 years before.

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

Every time a new article comes out in the paper, I am just as excited as I was way back in high school. The real truth is that every single article I write is a milestone that I celebrate. My ultimate reward is just holding that newspaper in my hands and seeing my byline in ink. Thanks to North Forty News!

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