My grandparents were Italian immigrants and my parents were hard-working Tennessee farmers. They knew the feel of dirt in their hands and they weren’t too proud to sweat. Actually, they had no control over the sweat part. It’s simply what happened during the hot, humid Tennessee summers. The sweat glands opened around the end of May and remained in the “on position” until mid-October. Shareholders in Lipton tea raked in the profits.I was a voracious reader from the moment I first learned to turn letters into words. It was magical. Then, in the third grade, I wrote a poem. It made me feel good and Sister Joan dePaul almost suffocated me with her praise. That was the ultimate seal of approval. That poem, combined with all those books, awakened the embryonic author nestled in my soul.
High school. College. Major in journalism and English. Work full time at local newspaper. Graduate with honors and, six months later, move to Los Angeles.
My knees shook as I walked onto the airplane. It was my first-ever flight and it was taking me to a place I’d never seen. Someone I’d never met was picking me up at the airport. And I wondered why my knees were weak?
I needed a job. Fast. I landed one as assistant editor at a high-profile interior design/architecture/art magazine on Sunset Boulevard. The iconic Hollywood sign was smack in front of me and the nearest cross-street was in Beverly Hills. Not too bad for a farmer’s daughter.
I was promoted to editor and stayed for seven years, before deciding to go off on my own. I’d forgotten the sensation of knocking knees but it came rushing back the day I packed my briefcase and shut my office door for the last time. I left my plants.
Things went very well. I was traveling on assignment for a number of magazines within a month. I criss-crossed the United States along with Mexico and Canada. I loved it. The places. The people. The new friendships, with a few special ones stretching into forever. Then….
I received one of those phone calls. It was from a very rich person in Texas, offering to pay an extremely handsome sum of money to start a new publication. Sure. My knees were rested and able to handle another shaking session. Besides, I was bound only by a one-year contract. I also freelanced, writing animal-related stories for the Chicken Soup for the Soul books and for Guideposts’ multi-volume “Listening to the Animals” anthology. It was a good time.
Another phone call came shortly before the end of the year’s contract. This one offered the editorship of a magazine headquartered in Oklahoma, but I could handle it as a telecommute position. I agreed.
I served as editor, lead writer and, later, executive editor. I received five awards for journalistic excellence for my highly controversial weekly column. On the side, I wrote a commissioned special interest book.
Writing is what I do. The embryonic author awakened in the third grade is now an adult. And that adult writes. Stories. Articles. Blogs. Books. About animals. About an almost endless list of topics….sometimes sounding a little bit crazy. Vampires. Yes, really. Canadian geese. Childhood cancer research. Vitamins. Drugs in the world of horse racing. Shale mining. Veterinary medicine. Columns about Cocker Spaniels.
There are always on-going projects on my desk. Always a screen opened to Google for research.
Writing is what I do and I do it every day.