By Mike DuBose
Many readers have inquired: “Why do we voluntarily publish articles and how are they developed?” If you knew my background growing up in Darlington on a rural, dirt road, you might wonder, “How did this redneck ever learn to write?” Until I developed this publication, I didn’t completely understand the whole process myself. Here goes.
How did I learn to write? Humbly speaking, it began in 1986 when I formed my research, grant, and evaluation companies. We wrote extensively and I didn’t have strong writing abilities other than what I gleaned from college and graduate school. So, I hired talented, intelligent, and experienced writers with English and Journalism degrees. When I developed documents, these skilled experts “butchered” my work. A 20-page document that I was proud of was “painfully gutted” to ten pages. My Italian professor would have referenced the excessive verbiage as “Bull-shoot-o.”
Over decades, staff slowly taught me proper writing styles and correct grammar to ensure readers clearly understood my content, using the fewest, concise words. The onset of the internet required me to learn from pecking on the keyboard to speed typing since I was receiving numerous e-mails and writing many documents. We created a mutually-agreed-upon-writing-manual so all employees would consistently use similar grammar, fonts, words, spacing, etc. The document was based largely on our staff’s extensive writing experience and bestseller “The Elements of Style by Strunk and White.” This company-guide helped us write in sync versus fighting over personal writing and grammar preferences since a single document would be proofed by multiple editors and researchers.
The Why? In 2006, during future strategic planning, our companies and family adopted the purpose “Creating Opportunities to Improve Lives” which lit the fuse. That quest has been strengthened over the years with enthusiasm through family members, employees, and volunteers. While we focused on generating profits to pay the bills, we shifted our purpose from solely “making money” combined with a ministry of “helping others.” Our work resulted in obtaining $800 million in grants to help schools, universities, and non-profits serve the less fortunate. Employees loved being part of our companies because we cultivated caring, family-like-cultures that became part of a bigger, humble mission.
How are articles developed? I read four home-delivered daily newspapers in addition to the on-line media. This is not to impress you, but I’m very curious and thirsty for knowledge. For many years, I desired to learn, grow, and be challenged mentally. At 73 years old, I need all the help I can get. As Aristotle noted, echoing my beliefs, “Wisdom begins when you acknowledge you know nothing.”
I select issues to write about according to my interests, experiences, or desire to learn more about certain subjects. Someone may stoke my attention—a friend asked about finding money to send her granddaughter to college so look for that article to surface soon. We recently wrote a series with Dr. David Hurst, DVM titled “Saying Goodbye to Our Beloved Pets” after witnessing bewildered families leaving their veterinarian’s office crying, carrying their best friend that had just been put down. I felt their excruciating pain and wanted to share insights on how to prepare for and recover from that horrific event, while giving them hope of seeing their buddies again in Heaven. (www.mikedubose.com/pets)
Our goal is to write about subjects to help thousands of individuals to grow and learn with me. It’s not about my ego, but rather sharing our experiences, research, and suffering. Our 100+ published articles include a wide-range of interests in areas such as health, travel, personal, and business fields.
Once I select topics, I’m off to the races. I crank up music to stimulate my creative brain-hormones: Rolling Stones (My favorite—”I Can’t Get No Satisfaction”), Beethoven, Bach, and some good-old-60s/70s Motown. I read books, attend on-line university classes, search reputable Internet websites, and interview experts. Then, I go through all of my information and highlight important areas I feel will generate credible, fact-based, and interesting articles. I try to tell attractive stories that flow well—an important writing component. I determine if we should write one article on a subject or create a series over several weeks. The series model presents tougher challenges because one article has to lead to the next one in a chain reaction. I initially write a long document. Because I’m restricted to 1,000 words per publication, I examine the longer version carefully to determine how to reduce it to meet the specified word-limit. That’s hard. It’s amazing I may spend hours on articles one day and then the following morning, when I’m in a different mood, I see ways to improve them.
At the end, I begin to see myself as a passionate artist perfecting his work. I’m in a “thrilled-mood-of-excitement” trying to finalize a beautiful story you can visualize. I write on an understandable level so people, from all walks of life, regardless of their education or experience, will hopefully say when reviewing our work, “That’s some good stuff I can use.” No BIG words. After about 40+ hours and 20 drafts of work on a single article, I turn it over to my wife, Debra, who is a great, challenging and sensible editor. She and I bounce the article back and forth until we feel that perfection is reached OR she’s ready to kick me out the door. Then, we ship it to the media for publishing and also store it on my non-profit website for my readers. Our articles will live on years beyond our deaths to help others. “Praise God who gets all the credit for our work.”
As the infamous CBS newscaster, Walter Cronkite, concluded the national news, “And, that’s the way it is.”
Visit my nonprofit website www.mikedubose.com for free access to his books and 100+ published articles, including business, travel, and personal topics, in addition to health research with Surb Guram, MD. You can write to [email protected].