My column from Nov. 28, 2008.
grand career ambition as a high school freshman was to be a novelist. I
didn’t aspire to write the Great American Novel. Instead, I wanted to
pen mysteries and romance novels. Working as the editor of my high
school newspaper had me considering journalism, but the true allure
there was to be accepted at Northwestern University because I’d become
smitten with its campus. A great writing class in my junior year gave me
a new aspiration - to be a poet.
Reality eventually set in and
family moves and financial constraints had me opting to start my college
career at a community college, with the intention of becoming a high
school English teacher. Then life led me to Michigan Tech, where I
switched majors to technical writing.
After five years of technical
writing and too many months of unemployment in a poor economy, I found
myself working as a reporter.
While I miss the challenges, work
environment, regular hours and nice compensation that came with working
as a technical writer, it wasn’t as fulfilling creatively as writing
features stories and this column. And while I worked with some great
people as a technical writer, this job introduces me to people from all
walks of life who allow me to share their stories.
my editor’s dismay, a looming deadline seems to help my writing process
and I tend to cut the deadline pretty close. Writing for work and the
little bit of writing I do for my personal blog soak up most of my
So here I am, five and a half years later, with no burning desire to write fiction.
hoping to tackle a non-fiction project, if I can talk my grandmother
into tracking down a journal my grandfather kept in the late 1930s. My
goal would be get the the journal typeset, and then do some interviews
and research to help learn more about who my grandfather was and a cross
country journey he took to share with the generations of his family
that never had the chance to know him.
What I really miss, though,
is poetry. When I was writing it, it was a form of therapy, but in the
last six years, I’ve probably written one poem. I have countless notes
jotted down when inspiration for a poem struck, from a hike along
waterfalls on the Presque Isle River in the U.P., to a bike ride an an
autumn day through the cemetery near my house. Not one of the notes have
gone beyond scribbles - thought fragments and descriptive words I want
I don’t care if I’m ever a published poet, but it is a
form of self-expression that I miss, to paint a picture with words to
capture a moment so vividly that reading it takes me back there.
There are so many other things to do between motherhood, work and the
vagaries of life and I lack the discipline to take the time for myself.
So the piles of scribbled notes for potential poems grow, cluttering up
my head until the day arrives when I unleash it.