I'm not a superstitious person

By Debra LoGuercio

©Copyright 2004, Debra LoGuercio, all rights reserved

I'M NOT A SUPERSTITIOUS PERSON -- not usually, anyways. But the last time I wrote about this topic, I totally jinxed it. This time around, I decided to keep my mouth shut and hope it all worked out. It was a fabulous plan, and it was working, too. Except for one little thing: I'd forgotten what a small world it really is.

It's about The Front Porch, a nationally syndicated publication, and if you've been reading this column long enough, you know that it was about this time last year when I was finally given the go-ahead from the The Front Porch editor to announce that I'd won their nationwide columnist search.

This was my dream come true: national syndication, and hopefully, hopefully, hopefully, an income someday that would allow me to do all my work at home in my PJs before noon and spend the rest of the day poolside, polishing my toenails. When The Front Porch picked me to be their columnist, it was the first step toward making that dream a reality. And I was walking on air.

But then I stumbled. Hard. Wound up with strawberry burns on both knees.

Just as the first issue featuring my column was to appear in The Front Porch, the publication lost a key piece of financial backing. There just wasn't enough money to continue publishing this darling little fledgling magazine, devoted to average American life. That issue with my first column never made it to press. In show business, they'd say the play closed before it opened.

The Front Porch editor and publisher, a wonderful guy named Andy Nash, didn't give up on his own dream, however. Instead of distributing The Front Porch as a free newspaper insert, like Parade or USA Weekend, he attempted to turn it into a real magazine, and offer it by subscription, with a novel twist: no advertising. Just funny, homey, touching stories and columns, quotes and comments.

It was a valiant effort, and lots of people subscribed. Sadly, not enough. Little by little, all the checks were returned, and it appeared The Front Porch, with only four issues in publication, would be nothing more than a brief, bittersweet memory.

For me, it was a lesson in "My name is Mighta Been." Believe me, the joy of writing that first column about winning the contest was more than counterbalanced by that sick feeling of having to write another one several weeks later to explain that it all fell through. It was a painful experience. What can you do but put it out of your mind and just get on with it.

Andy, however, didn't give up so easily. There was one more angle to try: a digital format, offered to newspapers as a weekly download, camera-ready, with advertising already in place. Bingo. Enough newspapers expressed an interest to get The Front Porch back in publication, and each month a couple more hop on board. Last summer, just when I least expected it, I got an email from Andy asking if I was still interested in writing for The Front Porch. I lost track of how many exclamation points I typed after the "Yes!" in my response.

The newly-revised Front Porch started appearing in newspapers in September, and my column began in October and has been running monthly since. I considered writing about it, but remembered what happened last time and decided to keep quiet. Until local resident and real estate queen Sandy Vickrey walked into our office one recent morning.

In her hand was a photocopy of my first Front Porch column, given to her by another local resident who'd been mailed the original page from a friend in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The friend was a Winters native, who couldn't believe his eyes when he read that this column in his local newspaper was written by someone from Winters.

Sandy held the photocopy under my nose and said, "What's this?" (I almost expected to hear a "young lady," like when you're in trouble, after her question.) I just sort of grinned, and said, "Oh, that! Guess it's not a secret anymore."

So, I talked it over with Andy and, superstition be damned, I decided to keep the secret no longer. If you were a fan of The Front Porch, you'll be happy to know there's a website now, www.porchsyndicate.com, where you can catch up on the latest, as well as read the first column I wrote for them, if you haven't gotten your fill from this humble spot on our Opinion page.

I don't know where this will all lead, but rest assured, my usual column will still be right here for as long as the guy on my right keeps handing me what I loosely describe as a paycheck every other week. I haven't quit my day job just yet. I'm making enough money to buy the nail polish, but not the pool. I'll keep thinking positive, and get myself a rubber tree plant.

That's what this story is all about, really -- thinking positive; persevering. Andy's determination to make his dream come true, to find a window when life closes a door, reminds me of a bumper sticker I saw the other day: Keep failing until you succeed. The only guarantee for failure is to stop trying.