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Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Calling of Other Voices

            When I was finishing high school and looking for a good college or university, my preference was Michigan State University’s School of Journalism.  I wanted to be a journalist, and my work on our school newspaper had convinced me of that calling.  My heart was set on it. My father had other ideas.
            He feared my exposure to radical ideas such as communism, and also had concerns about how far from North Carolina I would be.  He was nearing retirement from the Army Medical Corps and my parents would be moving back to the Old North State soon.  Disappointed in not having such a great opportunity to study journalism at a school known for such, I began searching through the Blue Book of colleges.  Because my boyfriend planned to attend Georgetown University in Washington, DC, I decided to seek a school in Virginia, my mother’s birth state.  Randolph-Macon Woman’s College won the prize and I began my freshman year there, graduating in 1955 with a major in political science and a minor study in English.
            It was at R-MWC that I began writing for the two campus magazines and the newspaper.  I spent my senior year as editor of the newspaper, The Sun Dial.  The experience whetted my appetite for more of the same, and when my husband, daughter, and I settled in Madison, NC after our first home in Bremerhaven, Germany with the US Air Force, I found the opportunity.  The Madison Messenger and papers in nearby cities took my feature articles.  I wrote a column in the local paper as well.  I loved writing about interesting people and also helped husband Charlie with articles on Madison’s history for a publication honoring the town’s sesqui-centennial.  It was a fulfilling time that I could manage while at the same time caring for our four children as they grew up.
            At some point, however, my direction changed and I became deeply involved in the life of our local Presbyterian church.  The effort eventually led me to seek ordination at a time when women were barely recognized for such leadership.  Before I began that journey, graduate studies in English at UNC Greensboro broadened my understanding of literature and enhanced my writing skills.  The latter became important as I worked on church newsletters wherever I found a chance to minister.  I also became extremely active in women’s organizations that supported opportunities for leadership in many fields, and my choice was to serve as a chaplain in hospital and hospice settings.  Writing sermons, a challenging genre, occupied much of my creative efforts.
            Retirement provided opportunities to consider other possibilities.  I began working seriously with different genres: poetry, varieties of prose, letters to the editor on political and social issues, and eventually managed to publish some books.  Two are by a small press in Maine, the rest self-published by a North Carolina company.  Included are poems, a collection of stories about a small town, and stories of children in WWII and of rescued pets.  The latter two books are closer to my former journalistic efforts. 
            What now?   Well, I think another path is calling me: some form of feature writing about interesting people and events.  I don’t know how that will materialize, but I see myself headed along other directions in my writing, part of which will include my blog page.  Watch this blog for further news.