For Plainsman Online
An author and podcaster, former South Plains College journalism student Thomas Mooney recently spoke to a group of journalism students, urging them to never stop chasing their dreams.
On Oct. 14, Mooney, former SPC journalism student and the author of the recently-released book, “The Lubbock Way: A Collection of Wallflower Vignettes,” spoke in front of a group of journalism students in a Newswriting class. During his talk, Mooney detailed how his many experiences throughout his time in journalism have shaped him into the writer he is today.
Born and raised in Ft. Stockton, Texas, Mooney wasn’t sure what he wanted to do in life. He came to live in Lubbock, Texas around the 2005-2006-time frame, and after high school, attended one semester of college at Lubbock Christian University, and then stopped. He then worked odd jobs, which included being a cabinet door maker. As the case usually goes among many graduates fresh out of high school, things weren’t quite clear about what Mooney wanted to do in life at that point.
“I feel like that’s part of everyone’s thing before they realize what they want to do or what’s really calling them,” said Mooney. “I think we have it in our heads that like at 18 your supposed to know what you want to do for the rest of your life, and that’s just simply not the case.”
It wasn’t until he attended college at SPC and spent time as an entertainment editor for the campus newspaper and did an internship with the Lubbock Avalanche Journal in 2011 when Mooney discovered his passion for writing. During his time at the Lubbock AJ, he learned about different aspects of newswriting, specifically about writing news about artists in the music industry. Throughout his time there, Mooney discovered his true passion, which was writing about music artists and local performers in Lubbock. At that time, the Lubbock AJ rejected his idea, and Mooney faced his first roadblock in his newly found career in journalism.
“They (Lubbock AJ) were like, nah, we don’t really do that,” said Mooney. “I was really hurt by that, because I felt like they didn’t want what I was seeing,” Mooney continued. “I’m not trying to diss the AJ, but I felt like they were in a backward and different world.”
From there, with the help of his journalism professor at SPC, Mooney then came up with the idea of New Slang, which was initially a blog that focused on Americana and Country music in Texas, specifically about music and artists in Lubbock. Even though he hasn’t written on the New Slang blogsite since 2016, Mooney has since converted it into a podcast. His first major job was working for Texas Music Magazine, and then from there he worked for other magazines, including Lone Star Magazine, Wide Open Country, Rolling Stone, and Texas Monthly.
In March 2020, Mooney decided to put his writing skills to the test by writing his first book titled, “The Lubbock Way: A Collection of Wallflower Vignettes” similar to his New Slang podcasts, this 35-chapter book focuses on anecdotes from different nights of musical performances by musicians from the Lubbock area, with the primary focus being from 2015-17. Because his book was being written and published during the COVID-19 pandemic, there was much less room for Mooney to freelance. Although he knew what he wanted to write about, how to write it wasn’t necessarily all that easy for him.
“Trying to figure out a book is a very difficult and frustrating time,” said Mooney. “Sometimes you want to do something that’s self-encompassing, but sometimes that’s just not the case.”
He then went on to describe his editing and publishing process and explained how he wanted to self-publish. He felt that self-publishing gave him more control over the editing and publishing process of his book, rather than going through a big company. Although he wrote, published, and edited his book amid the beginning parts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mooney stressed that giving up on it was never an option.
“No, giving up was never an option,” said Mooney. “Having the physical copy in my hand, my self expectations, and the fact that I put the work in with the editing and the whole process made it to the point where it had to get done.”
Currently, Mooney works on his New Slang podcast on a daily basis, usually having three to four interviews per week. The podcast mainly focuses on the state of music and artists in the Lubbock area. The podcasts are usually structured and topic based. When asked what advice he would offer to future journalists, Mooney responded, “I always think it’s important to write.” Mooney continued, “You can start a blog or whatever, but you have to write. You’ll get better eventually, and you’ll find your voice.”
Mooney is currently in the process of starting and working on a second book. The book will be about culture, in general, in Texas.