Thirty two years ago, I packed my two babies into the car, drove to a local small town newspaper office and handed over an envelope addressed to the editor. It was a day that changed my life and the lives of my family. It was the day I became a writer.
In the envelope was a letter to the editor and three writing samples. I asked in the letter to be considered as a “fill in” if one of the newspaper’s regular columnists went on vacation. The writing samples were opinion pieces with quirky twists of humor — results of writing alone, late into the night, and beyond caring what anyone else thought. I was broke, tired, desperate for adult conversation, and needing a way to bring in some income while I helped my husband on the farm.
“Delivering that envelope was not based so much on hope as it was an elimination of a dream”, I told myself as I drove home that day – humiliated and regretful that I had actually taken such a major risky step.
Later that evening, the editor called. “How you would like your own column?”
Beginning with my first columns, opportunities came from unexpected corners. I eventually had my column run in ten small weekly newspapers and a small regional magazine. Then it was purchased by a large farm magazine, Farm and Ranch Guide. I have written a column for them for twenty six years now.
Writing my column has also brought about other opportunities for writing and for speaking. Taking advantage of one opportunity brings about other opportunities. My writing has been included in anthologies, alumni magazines, travel magazines, and reprinted by newspapers. I’ve ghostwritten autobiographies, self-published books, and political speeches.
In becoming a writer, I’ve learned these things that others might find useful:
1. Take chances. Rejection eventually hurts less and if you don’t try, how will you know what wonderful things await you?
2. Shut the door on that negative inner voice that tells you that you shouldn’t or can’t become a writer.
3. Look at every opportunity. You will be surprised where it will lead you.
4. Don’t burn any bridges. Be honest, prompt, reliable, and do your best.
5. Find your voice. There is an audience somewhere for you. It might not be a major publisher but there are others who will appreciate what you have to say and how you say it.
I may never make a television appearance or write a best-seller (but who knows?), or be confident enough to totally let go of my more-traditional employment, but I have been able to do something I love – communicate with others through writing — and make decent money doing it.
And those two little girls who made that fateful ride into town to deliver that envelope so long ago? They eventually became three little girls who have now grown up and had their college educations paid for by mom’s writing opportunities.
Doreen Rosevold is a freelance writer from Mayville, North Dakota. Her column, “Farm Wife Diary” appears in the Farm & Ranch Guide. She has been the author of a syndicated column called “As I see It” and has ghostwritten political speeches, an autobiography, co-authored the book “From Stinker to Thinker”; contributed to the anthology, “Treasury of Farm Women’s Humor”; has written brochures, and various newspaper, alumni and regional magazine articles.