About me

I’ve always wanted to be a writer.
My first clue struck early in second grade.  Assigned by my hard-bitten editor, Sister Miriam, to write a holiday theme about pumpkins, I was intrigued. My first byline! What could it lead to? Recognition? A regular column? A book deal? The road was wide open, my ambitions grand. I would write the most dynamic and interesting essay on pumpkins ever, a notice to the literary giants that I intended to take my place among them. Make room, Papa.
Then, a roadblock–I was almost immediately struck with my first writers’ block.  I had no ideas, no inspirations. I couldn’t remember what pumpkins were or what they looked like. My mind was a clean slate for days. The blank practice page taunted, its clear blue lines mocking. My career was off to a bad start.
Finally, in desperate fits, I cranked out a nonsensical profile of my mom’s younger brother playing football in college. It had about as much to do with pumpkins as cheesemaking has with batting practice. No matter, I would meet deadline.
To cover the logical holes, I worked extra hard on the presentation. A nice visual might distract enough, though theory always sounds good before being put into practice. Stapling the coarse composition sheet to a construction paper silhouette of a football player with comically skinny limbs and an apple-shaped pumpkin for a head didn’t have the wow factor I’d intended.
I handed it in with my eyes shut, wondering which would be worse—all the red ink, or the brogue-laden diatribe delivered with the delicacy of a wooden ruler realizing its potential as a deterrent. Sleep avoided me that week the way cats stay away from running water.
To my surprise, and to my backside’s relief, nothing happened. I stayed out of the corner.  There were no stern lectures or disappointed looks. There wasn’t even much red ink, just a reassuring note to keep up the good work.
I had got away with it. Now all I had to do was get it past Mom. If Sister liked it, said I to myself, what could be wrong? But then again, Sister wasn’t my mother. I re-worried about my ability to sit down.
Apparently I shouldn’t have, judging from the reaction. One would have thought my humble work, pumpkin head still clinging by the chin at an unnatural angle, was an undiscovered Hemingway manuscript.
My mom gave me a huge hug. My youngest sister, who couldn’t read yet, stopped calling me names for that day. Even my uncle nodded as he hung it on his refrigerator door. I felt proud, and a little cocky. That is, until a nameless family member sniffed that I had crayoned the wrong number on the construction-paper jersey.  Whoosh.
Right then I learned some important things about writing: good fact-checking is vital to your credibility; whatever care I take in crafting a piece, somebody will treat it the way a hatpin does an unsuspecting balloon; and that I didn’t want to do anything else.
Since then, life intervened, and through fits and starts I have concluded that this is still the way I think of it. This blog, then, is to help me to renew my focus on it once more. To re-light my ambitions. To help me find the road again wide open.
And I don’t have to bother with construction paper.


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