It's time for another edition of the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Be sure to visit Alex J. Cavanaugh and the rest of the talented bloggers who are always willing to lend a helping hand.
November Optional Question: Albert Camus once said, "The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself." Flannery O'Connor said, "I write to discover what I know." Authors across time and distance have had many reasons to write. Why do you write what you write?
I finally gathered up the courage to start writing in 2011 when our boys were off at college and law school. What began as a blog to share humorous stories about my life as an empty nester, became a scrapbook of wonderful family memories, and opened doors to becoming a journalist.
Soon the focus of the empty nest changed when my beautiful rebellious mom reluctantly moved into an assisted living facility. Her home of 46 years had multi-levels, so it was too difficult for her to navigate the stairs in a walker. Though we toured several pretty places, my young, hip septuagenarian mom had the same complaint, "There are too many old people here."
Mom became the star of so many of my stories that she told me, " You're lucky I'm your mother; otherwise, I'd sue you for stealing all my best lines."
Writing about my mom was also therapeutic for me. Instead of pulling my hair out from her many falls and hospitalizations which later led to her inevitable move into a nursing home, we managed to always find the humor in every situation. And she took great joy in reading the comments from her many dedicated fans. I couldn't possibly have asked for a better muse, and nearly two years later, I still miss my mom dearly.
In 2015, I began writing for a daily local news website which featured a weekend print edition. I always wanted to write professionally, and believe the experience I gained through blogging and the IWSG, led to helping me achieve this goal.
Though I learned a great deal about local schools and city news, I especially enjoyed writing human interest stories. Whether interviewing individuals from 12 to 100, I tried to treat each story as a personal gift.
One of my favorite interviews was a darling couple about to celebrate their 75th wedding anniversary. When asked the secret of a successful marriage, the charming husband replied in two words, "Yes, dear."
His wife had a wonderful sense of humor too, and they couldn't have been more appreciative. When I dropped off extra print copies of their newspaper article, she told me about all the positive feedback they received from the beauty shop, grocery store and even the gas station.
Because they were "instant celebrities," they were now being approached by neighbors who never spoke to them before. She even joked about moving, as the women were getting a little too friendly with her 97-year-old husband.
Then she took me aside and expressed how much my interview meant to them, since most of their family lived out of state, and many of their friends had passed away. Their humorous love story made her feel young again. I couldn't help but tear up, as we hugged and said our goodbyes.
Some of my other news stories were about Holocaust survivors, shelters for abused women and children, and many health issues from preventing injuries to overcoming debilitating illnesses. I'll always be grateful to my encouraging editor who patiently guided me along the way.
My goal was to write news stories that were both informative and entertaining when possible. Though my blog stories have often missed the mark on both counts, I hope to at least provide a distraction during these turbulent times.
Sharing stories of lives, ours and others, is a deep, socially cohesive drive; one of the best things about writing and a positive use of the internet :-)ReplyDelete
That's great that you found what you enjoy to write. I bet you are really good at it. And I always enjoyed your stories about your mom.ReplyDelete
Lisa - Beautifully stated, and I couldn’t agree more. Thank you, Lisa!ReplyDelete
Natalie - Despite covering many three to four hour late night school board meetings, I had the opportunity to meet many interesting people writing human interest stories. I also enjoyed writing about my mom, and I’m glad she got a kick out of it too. Thank you so much for the kind words, Natalie!
I love this story! I love that you are writing "from-the-heart" stories that seem to be helping to heal your heart!ReplyDelete
Sweet story about the couple.ReplyDelete
And now you have this blog to look back on a great writing career.
Today is a beyond sad day and I have little energy to read or write anything, but I saw your post and had to answer. Being kind, putting someone in the spotlight, and just listening to others is the description of a good, selfless person you are. I am so glad that I know you, Julie. I am feeling disheartened with so many right now and don’t understand how evil can win over good, but, just maybe it can’t. You give me hope.ReplyDelete
Sounds like your journalism brought you so much personal and professional satisfaction!ReplyDelete
Liza - I love that you expressed this so eloquently. With all that you've been through, I really appreciate that you're thinking about my heart. You're a wonderful person, Liza. Thank you!ReplyDelete
Alex - I don't think this would've ever been possible without you and the support of the IWSG. Thank you so much, Alex!
Arleen - I think you're giving me too much credit. I had fun exchanging banter with the energetic, good-humored, elderly couple. The conversation flowed, while many other interviews were like pulling teeth. Everything you said about me, easily applies to you, and you've even had the courage to march for what you believe in. It's still too soon to tell, but things are looking up for our friend Joe. Though it's extremely difficult, we must stay positive. I hope you and your family are healthy. Thank you for making my day, Arleen!
Debra - Though I was only there for three years, I really did have a good experience, and my husband was a huge help in proofreading my stories before I turned them into the editor. Thank you, Debra!
excellent post and very personal. You have a nice touch and I can see that you'd pull the best from folks and bring it to life in a good way. Nice workReplyDelete
GEM JULIE ~ReplyDelete
Whatever the reasons, and whatever the route, I am just pleased that you did find your 'writing voice' and have shared so many entertaining stories with us. Laughter *IS* the best medicine, and you are a good doctor with the right prescription pad!
Joanne - While cleaning out a drawer, I discovered some copies of “Old Broads Waxing Poetic,” and immediately thought of you. Not only did you contribute some lovely poems to our anthology, but you also worked tirelessly on the formatting. Thank you for everything, Joanne!ReplyDelete
Stephen - Haha, I love your doctor reference and the prescription pad line is an added bonus! Thanks for the fun pick-me-up, Stephen!
Hi Julie - great to have your backstory ... and yes you do have a wonderful way of telling a story - I always love reading your posts. That couple must have been absolutely delighted ... I wrote a blogpost for one of my Ma's carers - a Filippino - who was so chuffed - she sent out to her family in the Philippines and to her brother in Australia ...ReplyDelete
It just does help so many ... and I'm sure your column helped and still helps many ... take care - and stay safe - Hilary
Hi Hilary, It was so nice that you wrote a story about one of your mom's caregivers! I'm sure you always went out of your way to make her feel appreciated and your story was the icing on the cake. I always love reading your posts, which are always a welcome escape from the atrocities going on in our world. Thank you so much, Hilary!Delete
Great post... as always. You've gotta stop downplaying your writing chops, kiddo. You've got 'em in spades! Plus a caring heart, which makes it much easier to write human interest stories that can touch other hearts.ReplyDelete
The part about the old couple made me smile. Mike always said "Yes, dear" was the secret to our longevity, too. (But he lied. I don't think he ever actually said those words to me... unless he was being sarcastic. HA)
Take care, sweet lady. It's awesome to see so many people dancing in the streets, isn't it?
Hi Susan, Thanks for the pep talk, but I’m still a work in progress. Funny that your husband also attributed “Yes, dear,” to having a successful marriage! It’s no secret that you and Mike had an exceptional 50 year marriage and raised a wonderful family. Susan, you’re the one with the heart of gold!ReplyDelete
Yes, we couldn’t be happier! I just saw Stacy Abrams on Colbert, and I’m grateful for her triumphant work in Georgia (your state). Thank you so much, my friend!
"You're lucky I'm your mother; otherwise, I'd sue you for stealing all my best lines." <---- HAHAHA! Love that!ReplyDelete
Writing for your local news website sounds like it was a great opportunity.
Hi Chrys, My mom always had the best zingers! Though I found local newswriting very challenging, I really enjoyed it. Thank you so much, Chrys!Delete