I’m Kari Howard, the new editor of Storyboard, and I’m writing to you from a Maine farmhouse, where possibly the biggest lilac bush in Waldo County is in full bloom. In the space of just two weeks, I’ve watched the buds go from deep purple to lilac to blush with an edging of brown. But somehow their impermanence makes them that much more beautiful.
You’re probably wondering: What’s up with the lilacs and Maine? But I wouldn’t be writing to you now if I weren’t sitting on the porch here breathing in their grandmotherly scent.
After spending most of my adult life on the West Coast working at the Los Angeles Times, I decided late last year to make the move back to my native New England. It was wrenching to leave my dream job as the editor of Column One, the Times’ signature narrative journalism feature. But I knew the time was right to make a leap into the unknown.
And sometimes you’re rewarded for taking chances: In a series of events that can only be described as serendipitous, I was soon offered the job at Storyboard, which puts me at two for two in the dream-job category.
One of my biggest loves is literary journalism, and Storyboard is committed to championing beautiful storytelling in all its forms: long narratives, of course, but I’m also interested in shorter features, ambitious documentaries, the new wave of Instagram and even Twitter narratives. The way we tell stories is changing, and I want Storyboard to be part of that conversation, while we continue to honor traditional narratives.
Oh, one more thing about me — I love music almost as much as good writing. I think the two are connected: the rhythm of language, and the rhythm of music. When I edit, I listen to songs that fit the mood of the story, either lyrically or musically. I call them story soundtracks, and I hope you’ll be seeing more of them here. (For this letter, it was “Feeling Good,” by Nina Simone. Oh, those horns at the beginning!)
For years I’ve talked about getting a song lyric tattoo, but I could never figure out which one I wanted on my skin for the rest of my life. When I decided to leave the Times and move east, a friend sent me this song by the Waterboys. It’s about starting over, and how if you break free from your old life, the new one can be so much more expansive than you ever imagined. Its key lyric is now on my arm:
That was the river.
This is the sea.
Here’s to lives, and stories, filled with possibilities. Please email me anytime with your ideas for articles, your thoughts on the site, even if you just want to chat. I want this to be a place where lovers of beautiful storytelling gather and have great conversations, kind of like a virtual coffeehouse (or even a bar). You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can reach out to me on the Storyboard Twitter account, @niemanstory, or my personal one, @karihow.