My first byline read ‘Lindsay Sheridan’. My immediate thought was who is Lindsay? My second thought was that would be a good pen name – but no one I know would know it was me. The publisher had made a mistake going to press. I decided it was okay since that first article was not really helpful anyway. By the time it went to press in the college newspaper, the event I wrote about, ever so concisely, had already happened. But it was a start.
My next piece – with a corrected byline – was an investigative report on plagiarism. The publisher said he wanted me to do it and gave me the name of a professor on campus to interview for the story. I found three more leads on my own to interview. During this creative process I realized I was having so much fun researching, interviewing and writing the story and discovered that it was not so difficult. Nine hundred words later my investigative report was the lead story in another issue of the newspaper.
In middle school, as I recall, I really did not like writing stories, papers, reports or anything. I had to write a creative paper in class and I remember using a simile – something about the top of my boots falling over like a wilted rose. My teacher liked that and told me to keep going. I could not. My creative drive was, well, wilted like that rose. I had no desire or motivation or inspiration. Anytime anywhere that a paper needed to be written, I used a minimal amount of words or if possible, avoided it altogether.
Later on in my working life I was asked to write a mission statement for a committee I was involved in. I froze. I had no idea where to start. Instead, I enlisted someone else at work to help me write it.
Fast forward a few years and I found myself out of work due to the downturn in the economy in the late 2000’s. Interestingly enough I worked for a local newspaper where I was not a journalist but a clerk in the accounting office. After numerous attempts at finding work in my field I decided to go back to school at a community college and try something new. While I was studying there I joined a club: The college newspaper. I don’t know why, I just walked in. I didn’t like writing as I have stated a few times in this story. Actually, I did know why I joined.
A few years earlier I had been to see a channeler who said that I should try writing books; that I had a lot to say. Start with a children’s book, the channeler or rather the entity coming through the channel had said. I did not agree and wondered if the message may have been meant for someone else. So, perhaps by walking in that day to the college newspaper I was humoring the universe or just curious to find out if writing was what I was supposed to be doing. That day I decided I would keep an open mind.
Here’s how I have learned to tell my stories. For me, writing is just like gathering facts and information and adding adjectives, a simile here and there and writing as if I was talking to someone about what happened. Another way I learned to write was listening to the radio or television news to hear how a story was structured and presented. Also, reading a lot of books on any topic. The newspaper journalist and book author Pete Hamill has also said that reading a variety of books growing up is what helped him to be a good writer.
But how writing came to be something I love to do now is a mystery to me. Maybe it was there all along and maybe it was destiny. Maybe it was a bit of both. I know what stories I’m meant to tell. I believe I just needed to have had the experiences to share and hopefully inspire people. Perhaps this story is one of them.