Life was heading nowhere, so I started a new one that was all about writing.
|I was middle-aged, with a sales and cosmetology background, but I was determined to reinvent myself as a published writer.
During the late 1980s, my second marriage was a sham. My two teenage children had moved out, having fled from a bad situation. To cope, I became a workaholic with a full time job and a full time obsession to work as a writer.
My mother optimistically sent me money in case I needed a divorce lawyer. I bought a word processor with it and signed up for classes at an area community college. Several wonderful teachers encouraged me with my writings. My confidence boosted, I sent a letter to the editor of the Sunday newspaper's magazine section which published first person columns.
Within days the phone rang. I found myself speaking with the editor, a harried sounding woman named Robin.
“If you can put sentences together decently about something interesting, I’ll consider it. But what I really need are freelancers to write articles on assignment,” Robin barked.
My brilliant response was, “Well, uh…O.K.” That evening I wrote an off-the-wall piece that had simmered in the back of my mind for years. Compulsive rewrites followed.
I put the finished column in my mailbox and flipped up the flag for pickup. Anxiety set in. What was I thinking? A former hairdresser and cosmetics salesperson with a high school education plus a few college credits imagining that a newspaper editor would actually think it was publishable? Later, when Joe the mailman marched away from my house, I resisted the impulse to chase him, knock him down, and rip my carefully addressed manila envelope out of his bag.
Too late. My humorous essay describing a dull world where language lacked adjectives was now federal property.
I answered my phone two days later. Robin wanted to publish it!
“I’m sorry, we only pay $35 dollars for the column.” They were actually going to PAY me?
We worked together for years, even after my next life reinvention involved relocating, taking a new job, and eventually, adding a new last name to my byline.
One Sunday the phone rang. Robin was leaving the newspaper to begin a job in public relations for a hospital. “I figured if Dana could reinvent herself, so could I.”