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Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow: Lex Leaves for Macworld

I didn’t write professionally about Apple until January 2009. I responded to a flurry of tweets from various Macworld editors seeking freelance iPhone app reviewers. My first review, of a decidedly unimpressive game called Darts, ran in February of that year.

I was thrilled to be paid to write about Apple stuff, and even more thrilled that people were actually reading what I wrote. Eventually, I was writing longer reviews for Macworld, and lots of them. Over time, I branched out, writing speaker reviews, case reviews, and the like. After a while, I was even trusted to write how-to’s, news, and opinion pieces.

But it wasn’t enough! Though I loved what I was writing for Macworld, I craved more. I was still holding down a full-time job working for a large Internet company, but getting paid to write about Apple felt magical. I wanted more of that feeling. On a lark, I cold-emailed Adam Engst, offering my writing services for TidBITS. This was back in the long-ago era of July 2010 — so long ago that Charlie Sheen still had a job!

Though I didn’t know it, my timing was good, since Doug McLean was leaving TidBITS just then to return to grad school. Nonetheless, Adam wisely asked Jason Snell and Dan Moren at Macworld whether I was worthy of his (and TidBITS’s) time and attention. Jason and Dan responded in the affirmative (my e-checks to them had cleared, I guess), and Adam agreed to give me a tryout.

Most of my work for TidBITS was on the shorter side — TidBITS Watchlist updates, ExtraBITS links, and the like. But while I rarely flexed my longer-form writing muscle on TidBITS, I really enjoyed the work. I was writing for a publication I used to receive via email when I had a “text-only” Internet connection in the early 1990s. I was writing alongside industry greats like Adam, Tonya, Glenn, Jeff, Rich, Joe, Matt, and Mark. Frankly, it was an honor just to sit in on the weekly staff calls and exchange email with folks whose writing I had respected and idolized for years. I even got to meet many of the TidBITS staffers in person at Macworld 2011 back in January.

But now, though it seems like I’ve known the TidBITS crew for eons (time flies in the Internet world), I’m leaving my freelance role at TidBITS after just nine months, as I’ve accepted a full-time offer from Macworld. The friendship between TidBITS and Macworld is obvious and strong (ever noticed that there are months that the masthead of Macworld is nearly monopolized by articles from TidBITS writers?), but my new employment with Macworld gives them rights to all the Apple-focused stuff I write. A number of people who start off writing for TidBITS end up contributing to Macworld too, and I’m not even the first to take the path from freelancer to Macworld staffer; Dan Frakes blazed that trail back in 2003.

My affection for TidBITS, and my even greater affection for the people behind the site, is unwavering. I’m proud that I was involved, however briefly, with such a venerable publication, and will miss the frequent email messages from Adam. They’d contain not just new software updates to cover for the TidBITS Watchlist, but often expressions of gratitude that I was writing them so he wouldn’t need to stress about not having the time to write them up himself.

I believe that I’ve even helped find an excellent replacement for me, but that’s an announcement for another time!

As you might imagine, (and as I’ve wordily blogged about elsewhere), I’m tremendously excited to be joining Macworld as a full-time Staff Writer. I am also extremely grateful to TidBITS for the work and friendship offered to me over the past nine months, and I’m certain that continued greatness lies ahead for the site. My sincere thanks to Adam, Tonya, and the gang for everything.

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