About Stephanie Hanlon @ St. Croix

About Stephanie Hanlon @ St. Croix

I’m gonna be real honest here guys, I don’t know what this is. I know what I want it to be, I know what I need to say and show – but it’s fluid just like me. My ultimate goal is to get out some things while working in the mediums I love, and maybe work through some shit along the way. This is my voice, my vision – raw and unfiltered, filled  with love, hate and everything in between and around that. It’s a work in progress, just like me. The idea is to spring board my creative writing with my photography – to use my Nikon zoom lens to find deeper messages and hidden meanings that can then become stories and words that take those ideas to another level.  This is part of my journey as a writer and media professional.

A bit about myself …13307417_10101136914955475_5402930952534995950_n

I started writing more than 20 years ago, not because I was exceptionally smart or had a talent for writing – but because I was overflowing with emotion and needed a reprieve, an outlet where I could unload the unbearable. I wrote furiously, my pen found the paper effortlessly and the words flowed. I read and wrote constantly – this was my only escape from a difficult life. Naturally, I came to be a literature major in college, but my need for writing wasn’t satisfied there. I quickly found the school newspaper – at the time I was at Borough of Manhattan Community College and the paper was the Voice of the Voiceless. I originally wanted to publish my poetry but quickly began covering crime and other hard news around campus. It was love at first interview. I remember falling in love with it, thinking, wow, I get to learn new things, uncover facts and write all about it. It didn’t require I reveal my soul or dig in and prod at my inner demons just to get a decent piece. It was my voila moment. But I wouldn’t change my major just yet. That wouldn’t happen until I was at C. W. Post University and slogging along in my Lit studies when I realized that I really just wanted to be in the news, in the media, doing something current and relevant. Changing my major placed me down a fulfilling life path in media.

 

I worked several internships and part-time or freelance gigs after graduating until I landed a job as a general assignment reporter in St. Croix, at the St. Croix Avis, a historic paper in the Virgin Islands that had its printing press in the basement and was just transitioning to digital photography. It was perfect. I worked my way up over the years, covering the territory until I would eventually become managing editor of the whole paper. It was a challenging and rewarding promotion and while it took me a while to acclimate to my new role as a manager and not a producer, I would go on to help the paper win it’s first journalism award. But, alas, all good things must eventually come to an end. My next big challenge was teaching writing and media at the local university, which had contacted me after seeing success their students were having once completing internships with me. I gave academia a chance and went back to graduate school to catch up on some of the technical skills that I had missed out on developing at a print only operation for 8 years. I focused on longer term research projects, my graduate studies, teaching, freelance web editing and marketing – it was great. When I graduated with a masters in communications and a focus on new media marketing, I immediately found a national marketing job right here on island and made the transition official.

Now I’m working primarily in organic marketing, managing search engine optimization campaigns, conversion rate optimization efforts, online reputation management, marketing strategy and analytics, and growing the company’s market research and audience profiling functions. It’s been so rewarding applying all of my media experience in this setting because it allows me to apply all the things I’m highly skilled at while mastering the technical and back end side of things.

But there is one thing lacking: creative writing. I’ve been craving a creative outlet to express all of my ideas, concepts, abstractions and visions – and after spending far too much time grueling over what that outlet would be, I’ve come to this – full circle almost, as I developed my first Literary Lens prototype more than a decade ago. It represents two of my greatest passions: photography and creative writing, and gives me a spring board for which to connect the physical to the conceptual and to be constantly in the process of analyzing the world and extracting meaning from all I see.

It’s for me first, my mental health – I just can’t possibly keep all this bottled up. But I hope eventually it will become something for others as well – something that invokes conversation, thought and inspiration.

So, here goes!

-Stephanie Hanlon, St. Croix, USVI

 

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