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A newspaper editor challenged Julianne Boling to write positive stories. She’s still at it 45 years later.
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Longtime Forsyth County resident Julianne Boling poses with a copy of her new book, ‘Live, Laugh, Learn: The L’s Have It!’ a collection of her columns that have appeared in the Forsyth County News since 1973. - photo by Brian Paglia

Julianne Boling was tired of all the negative stories she was reading in the Forsyth County News, and she knew just who to direct her complaint to.

Boling and the newspaper’s editor at the time, Jim Cosey, attended the same church. Boling confronted Cosey with her opinion, and she didn’t mince words.

“I said, ‘Jim, all you ever write in the paper is bad stuff,’” Boling remembers. “’You need to write some good stuff.’”

Cosey threw the challenge back at Boling.

“Well, you write it, I’ll print it,” he said.

So Boling did.

That was 1973, and Boling has been writing a regular column for the Forsyth County News ever since, a run of 45 years (and counting) of musings on her life experiences, the county, and cultural observations that run in Sunday print editions. It gave Boling plenty of material from which to choose from for her recent book, ‘Live, Laugh, Learn: The L’s have it!’

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Longtime Forsyth County News columnist Julianne Boling's recent book, ‘Live, Laugh, Learn: The L’s Have It!’ is available for purchase on Amazon. - photo by Brian Paglia

Boling said friends had prodded her for years about putting her columns into book form. She’d considered the concept for a while, but Boling kept running into the same problem.

“When you’ve been doing it this many years, how do you choose?” Boling said.

Boling began slowly. She has a copy of every one of her columns ever published, and so Boling started to go through them, marking the ones that stood out. Eventually, she had enough for a book. How to publish it was the next challenge.

A missionary friend who had recently released a book recommended Boling use Amazon’s publishing platform, and it suited Boling’s needs and budget. She loaded her columns on to the website. Her son, Ben, an artist, designed the cover. It’s been available to purchase for almost two weeks at $20 a copy. Boling estimates about 60-70 people have purchased the book so far.

“I have a lot of people who if they don’t buy them they’re in trouble,” Boling said.

Boling began writing her columns for the Forsyth County News not long after moving to the area. Born and raised in Cartersville, Boling gradually moved closer and closer to Forsyth County, first to Canton and then Dawson County.

Boling used her early columns to highlight “ordinary” people in the county. She titled it “Forgotten People” and wrote about teachers, doctors, people “that never got any recognition at all for what they contributed to the community,” she said.

Eventually, Boling found herself writing more and more about her experiences growing up in the ‘50s and ‘60s, of how everyone knew her mother, who was a florist in Cartersville, or how news of any misbehaving made it back home before Boling did.

Boling sensed she was connecting with readers whose experience growing up was similar to her own.

“They appreciated at the time that I wrote about what they went through as children,” Boling said.

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One of Julianne Boling’s columns that appeared in the Forsyth County News on Jan. 4, 1978. Boling’s early columns were titled ‘Forgotten People’ and became a forum to highlight “ordinary” people in the county that Boling felt deserved recognition.

Boling’s column has gradually changed. She broadened her subject matter to include commentary on the news of the day and other random observations. Boling will still write about her childhood, but now when she does it’s in an effort to preserve a way of life she sees disappearing. The county’s rapid growth, Boling says, has taken a toll on the area.

Still, Boling can’t see herself moving from Forsyth County.

“I love the county,” Boling said. “I love the people in it. I feel like that I came here at such a young age that I’ve grown up with everybody else.”

How Boling writes her column has changed too. She started out writing them longhand, then typing them on a manual typewriter and submitting them to Cosey in person.

“I always kept a gallon bucket of correction fluid,” Boling said.

Now, of course, Boling uses a computer and submits them through email.

But Boling has maintained some traditions with the column. First, she always writes on Wednesday (even though the column is due on Friday), choosing whatever topic has been stuck in her mind all week. Second, Boling never includes a headline, leaving herself a little surprise to find when the column is published.

“I like to pick up the paper and see what you said I wrote about,” Boling said. “That’s always a highlight of it.”

Another is waiting for her husband’s reaction to each new column.

Silence gets Boling anxious.

“He is the first one to read it on Sunday,” Boling said. “If he doesn’t say he likes it, I’ll ask him, ‘Well, didn’t you like it?’”

But Boling said the biggest highlight over the 45 years that her columns have appeared in the Forsyth County News is getting a positive reaction from a reader.

It reinforces to Boling a belief that one’s life experiences can give counsel or meaning to others.

“I think that our experiences, what we go through and how we move from one point to another, is gratifying to us, but it also helps other people,” Boling said. “That’s what I’ve done with my life, not just the writing.”