I’ll never forget the first article I ever had published. I was in high school, and I was profiling a World War II veteran for a Pearl Harbor Day celebration in a small, rural town in East Texas. I met my veteran in a local diner, pulled out a pen, flipped on a video camera, and asked my first question.
I was hooked.
I guess I was lucky. Earl had a lot to say: hard stories of fear and mocking cruelty and touching stories of impromptu Christmas truces, all told in his country-boy’s drawl. I hardly had to ask him anything; the fascination on my face must have been encouragement enough. He talked for more than an hour, and I wrote for several more. But the article I turned in – amateurish and immature as it was – caught the attention of the editor of a small monthly publication, and the summer between my junior and senior years I wrote several more features for her.
As a freshman in college I decided to study journalism, and after two years decided I could learn more working in the field than studying the constitutional law and rhetoric required for a diploma. That decision has paid off. I worked as an obituary and announcement writer for a newspaper in Glen Burnie, Md., and started adding to my collection of clips along the way. Then I transferred to a daily newspaper in Annapolis, Md. and split my time between announcements and calendars and a growing number of stories. Some were features in the same line as that first one, telling stories of area centenarians or community leaders. Others were news. But I liked it all.
Now I’m covering school boards and city councils and people and places in western Pennsylvania. I live with my doctoral-student husband and our two rambunctious ferrets, Vesper and Alaska, in a small brick house on the edge of town. We’re walking distance from a nature preserve and trails that twist and wind up a hill that I – Texas girl that I am – call a mountain. There are daffodils poking their heads through the grass today, and I know it’s a good place to be.
But I’m also looking ahead, and I know that print reporting may not see me through my career. Thus this blog. I’m attempting to build a platform to grow and improve my abilities as I tell the vignettes I come across that do not belong in a strictly news publication, and through the criticisms and critiques of my readers. So take a look around, and thanks for reading my story. I’m looking forward to your thoughts and suggestions as we go forward from here.