Hey, y’all.

I’m Tommy Tomlinson and this is The Writing Shed.

I’m a writer based in Charlotte. My memoir, THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM, came out in 2019. These days I’m working on a book about the Westminster Dog Show, and the bond between dogs and their people. You’ll be hearing a lot about that on here.

I also do a podcast called SOUTHBOUND and weekly commentaries for WFAE, the NPR station in Charlotte.

For more than 25 years I was a newspaperman, mostly at the Charlotte Observer, where I wrote a local column for 15 years. I’ve also written a bunch for magazines from ESPN the Magazine (RIP) to Esquire to Sports Illustrated to Garden & Gun. A column I wrote in an hour in between folding laundry went viral a few years ago. Four million and something clicks. Alyssa Milano retweeted it. We live in a strange world.

The kind people at Substack have several pieces of advice for anyone starting a new site. One of those pieces of advice is to focus your Substack on one topic. I have chosen to ignore that advice, the same way I’ve ignored it my whole career. My mind can’t sit still. I consider this a good thing.

My pledge to you is to land in your inbox a couple times a week with something interesting. Some of you have migrated over here with me from the newsletter I had been doing — 10 things that moved me in some way every week. I’m going to continue that here every Friday. Other times I’ll be writing about whatever interests me in the moment. I’ll spend a good bit of time on the process of writing my new book — from gathering material, to getting it organized, to sitting down and filling all those blank pages, to the ins and outs of publishing. But I’ve also got a bunch of other ideas — there’s a music series I’ve been itching to write for years, and some other projects that I’ll reveal if and when they bear fruit. There’s no telling what might show up here.

How do subscriptions work?

For the time being, everything on The Writing Shed will be free to read. Let me repeat that: ALL POSTS ARE CURRENTLY FREE. This might change, and likely will change, somewhere down the road. Writing is how I pay the bills. Some writers are making a good living on Substack subscriptions alone, but I’m not counting on that for me — refer back to the “stay on one topic” advice above. What I’m hoping is to build a community of people who enjoy reading stories and telling them. I’m especially hoping that the comments here end up being a place where people come together and enjoy one another’s company. I’d like for this to be a pleasant place to hang out.

Having said all that … I am going to give you lovely readers the option of a paid subscription to The Writing Shed. It’s purely up to you. I’m calling it the Backstage Pass. That voluntary subscription is $5 a month or $50 a year. In return you get my deepest thanks … and some perks we’ll figure out down the road. One of them, for sure, will be a regular subscriber-only AMA (ask me anything) session.

There’s also an option I’m calling the Golden Ticket. If you contribute $250 (or even more, if Elon Musk is reading this) on top of the subscription, well, God bless you, and you will at the very least get a signed and personalized copy of my next book when it comes out.

If you zoned out during those last two paragraphs, I understand. The bottom line is that everything here is free for the time being, and most posts will be free always. If you’re interested in a paid subscription, here you go:

The Writing Shed is supported by you, the reader. Please consider becoming a paid subscriber.

You’ve read this far? Hell yeah.

It’s always thrilling and a little terrifying to start a new project. My mom and dad (with my begrudging help) used to plant a big garden every year behind our house. Some years there wouldn’t be enough rain, and some years too much. Some years the worms got into the corn. One year an armadillo got into the pumpkin patch. But year after year, my folks produced a bounty that fed us all year long.

I hope we can all get some nourishment here, and have some fun, and maybe learn a few things about life along the way. If you choose to come along, I’m grateful. As always, thanks for the time.

— TT