Feeling Nostalgic

Feeling Nostalgic

Reading someone else’s memoir always puts me in a reflective space, so tonight I was inspired to go digging through some of the boxes that have followed me across the country and around the world. I discovered a journal I kept in 8th grade, and the literary arts magazine I edited my senior year in High School. (I’m posting a bad picture of the cover of it here, since even having had a voice in selecting the cover art and color–PURPLE!–reflect some of the effort I invested in its production.) In fact, that particular magazine has some of my earliest bylines–and the first piece of writing I earned money for, a poem that won fourth place in the 1989 Virginia Poetry Contest. Because I’m still proud of that, here it is again in all its glory:

Conversation

I talk to you
and am moved through
history

in the beginning…

science

there was light…

religion

and God said…

philosophy

it is good.

Like mourning doves
with dawn before us
Like blue birds
on barbed wire

We balance on
a filament of reason.

At daybreak
the whisper
of our voices
blurs in the
rustling wind.

The joy of seeing my name in print stuck with me, and likely formed the impetus for my first career choice as a journalist. A few dozen bylines in various papers, though, disabused me of the romance of that job, and I discovered the quiet and internal focus of editing other people’s work. What’s fascinating to me is that all these years later, Googling my maiden name turned up online archives for my first, credited editor’s work (then produced only in print, in a unique format I designed), a series for the now-defunct Pew Partnership for Civic Change about the nature of community leadership. I got to research an interesting topic to prepare introductory essays for a 4-piece series, comprised of Building Healthy Communities, Building Deliberative Communities, Building Diverse Communities, and a final one not available online. I will forever be grateful to my then-boss for the opportunity she gave me to further develop that professional skill.

I suspect writing and words will remain a priority in my life for the rest of my life, and am grateful to have a more reliably permanent record (here) of these activities than the meager papers on which they currently reside. In fact, I gave myself palpitations tonight when I couldn’t immediately put my hands on that 1989 edition of Heritage (that literary arts magazine I was talking about earlier). My experience with that publication had such a profound impact on my choices and later direction that I would have mourned misplacing that magazine as a dire loss.

Even unearthing a final draft of my honor’s thesis, “In Their Footsteps: Travel, Journalism, and Literature: A Comparison of the Lives and Works of Heinrich Heine and Germaine de Stael” produced a little happy dance. Those 100 pages were the product of two years of research, writing, and revising and could be considered my first book, as they are bound and housed in my university’s library.

Naturally, now, I’m more focused on the fanciful than the factual, but being able to trace the thread of the impact words have had on my life and my choices seems like another useful exercise in the process of facing publication. I would recommend it to any other aspiring author, as well.

🙂

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