My first order of business before really digging into the business of writing was to contact my high school journalism teacher, Terry Nelson. Terry was, and still is, a fantastic teacher. She made Journalism a fun class while challenging us to think critically. The two years on the school newspaper were a blast, but she wasn’t mollycoddler. She would let you when were taking the easy path and would give you what for because of it. Lord knows I got a few of those talks. She was a mentor and, more importantly, she was a friend.
All through high school my path seemed to be leading me towards a career in the Sciences. My class load was five years of math, two years of chemistry, and one year of physics. My SAT scores were heavily skewed to Math over English. My destiny, it seemed, was to be an engineer. There was a slight hitch in that plan… I didn’t want to be an engineer. Once I got a taste of writing for the school paper my sights were set on a career as a writer. The one person who fully believed in and urged me to write was Terry Nelson.
In the thirty-four years after graduating high school I tried, and failed, college three times. I worked a few jobs here and there until landing my most recent, and longest running, job. During that time Terry and I had lost touch with each other. There were two chance meetings and an email or two and then the eventual connection via Facebook. Every single time we connected she asked if I was writing and the sad truth was that I wasn’t. She never gave up on me, though.
I contacted Terry to let her know of what was going on and to see if she could meet me for coffee down in Muncie. She was excited by my news and was eager to see me. We set a date and time for the following week.
Our little meeting went great. She was still full of the energy and enthusiasm she had way back when. We spent most of the first hour catching up on our lives, friends, classmates, and teachers, and discovered that we had a few similarities. Like me, she considers herself a writer. Neither of us felt like we wanted to write, but rather that we needed to write. Our writing styles were similar in that we use a journalistic approach. She struggled with making time to write, too. We both love to travel- her travel pursuits are more European while mine are more the American West- and while traveling we both feel naked without a camera.
She had several good ideas to help get into the habit of writing, only one of which I’ve actually done so far. I’m a far better procrastinator than a writer. One thing she didn’t have a suggestion for that I was really hoping to hear was how to get published. She suggested starting a blog which caused me to turn up my nose as if smelling horseradish. She kept at it despite my obvious distaste for the subject. She understood that I’m an old school, paper-and-ink type but insisted that blogging was a viable option. I told her I would consider it.
Our visit lasted about two hours. It would have gone by quicker if not for the fact that we were sitting outside and were interrupted by her eight hundred friends in the drive-through line. I suggested that with that kind of popularity she could run for public office.
We parted ways, giving one another a big hug and a promise to stay in touch.
I came away feeling invigorated and ready to tackle this next phase of my life. If only it were that simple.