My first job out of college, I was a newspaper reporter.
More correctly, my very first job out of college, I was a newspaper reporter with the extra glamour feature that I was also required to deliver the freaking newspaper, a fact which galled me to no end.
Every week, I would set out on my route to put the printed version in the boxes that stood on street corners around my hometown of Savannah, Georgia, and gripe to myself about the fact that there I was, a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Brown University delivering the blasted rag.
Inside myself, I was determined to make something of myself so that I could rescue myself from what I felt at the time to be this humiliating task.
Things got better.
I graduated to just writing.
I worked for the afternoon newspaper, the now-defunct Nashville Banner, which had five deadlines every day before noon.
One morning I was scheduled to write the lead story of the newspaper.
I was driving to work after a snowstorm when my $11,000 stripped down Toyota Corolla hit a patch of ice and slid down the hill. Wham! I hit another car.
I was certain this event qualified me for a pass on writing the lead story, so after speaking with the police who finally arrived I schlepped off to find a pay phone (this was back in the day before cell phones) to call the newspaper and tell my editors what had happened.
I was due to write a business story about a bank – the details of which remain fuzzy in my memory.
What stands out for me is that it didn’t matter that I was shaken up, that my Corolla was dented or that I was unsure how I would make it in to work that day. I was required to dictate the story into the pay phone, no medals delivered afterwards.
On other occasions I stayed out all night and had to come up with 500 meaningful words the following morning.
It was great training to get over myself, to leave behind the requirements of personal comfort, inner tranquility, emotional stability or even inspiration.
I learned how to write no matter what, to get it done.
Flash forward a few decades. I am now the author of 12 plays, one of which I accidentally burned in a fireplace when I was cleaning out about 30 years of old journals from every nook and cranny of my house. That play, Raccoon In Every Pot, was my favorite play and got performed Off Off Broadway in New York.
I wish I still had that play. It was about two women and a cat on the midnight train to Georgia on Christmas Eve.
I have also published three books, two of which went to No. 1 on Amazon, and am about to publish my fourth book any day now, not to mention all the soppy poems I wrote in high school.
The other day my fiance Ken Holmes handed me the link for Fred On Everything.
This is the blog for a self-described curmodgeon who writes on matters such as why men shouldn’t get married, race relations in Baltimore, what’s really wrong with single career women who can’t find a husband, armpits and other politically incorrect topics.
Whether you agree with him or not, what’s brilliant about Fred holding forth is that he tells it exactly how he thinks it is.
To me, this is the mark of a great writer.
You let it out from your heart and soul so completely there is no doubt on anybody else’s part where you truly stand on any given subject.
Writing is not for sissies.
At my last writing workshop, my literary coach Tom Bird told me he thought I ought to be writing one to three hours every day, seven days a week.
“If you want your relationship with Ken to work out, you need to be writing every day,” Tom advised me.
He told me he saw that I have a backlog of books in my soul just waiting to be transcribed and that this spiritual pile-up, if you will, was causing me to experience a certain inner restlessness.
“All the yoga and meditation you do only make it worse,” Tom observed. “You are so open but you have got to let it all come through.”
“If you write every day for a year and a half, you may just get caught up,” Tom said.
What I observe about myself is that these days when I write, thankfully I am no longer standing by the side of the frozen road at the pay phone next to my damaged Corolla.
My favorite place to write is on my MacBook Air laptop as I lie in my hammock on my back porch in the fresh air and sunshine.
I go into my own world – the world of orchids, natural healing, intuition, alternative medicine, prayer, hope and finally, actual inspiration.
Some people may drink to get away from their life.
I write to go deeper into mine.