My first official writing gig post babies and some major bouts with post partum depression, which at the time I dared not speak of, was as a weekly columnist for a local print newspaper. I took such pride in the fact that this team of hard news journalists were willing to give me a four color half page section in each week’s newspaper, and I was hard-pressed to let them down. So I worked…through weekends, pulled all nighters, I begged off of get togethers with friends, you see because I had this column, this all important upper corner square that I knew needed to be filled with prose that would entertain and educate Â and I felt such a strong conviction in delivering it.
It didn’t matter that I was getting paid about two cents a word and that my hard work was likely going unnoticed by anyone other than theÂ direct editor of my section. I felt this strong responsibility to deliver a 900 word column each week- regardless ofÂ whatever was happening in my personal life and much to the detriment, at times of my kids.
Â And then my father got sick. But heck, the paper and time doesnâ€™t stop for anyone. And instead of spending weekends with my dad, who became progressively more ill, I stayed home, while my kids went to visit him– because, I had to write my column. I had deadlines.Â And at the time these deadlines seemed so all encompassing and important. The nominal fee I was making per column wasn’t the issue- it was my reputation that was at stake- I believed I needed to keep grinding out those columns- at all costs- even if it meant losing precious time with my family. I believed the newspaper depended on me.
And then, in what seemed like a millisecond- I get a form letter in the mail which says I have been relieved of my responsibilities as a columnist. Forget that it was a shock to the system, and being that I work a month in advance- I had a month of columns ready to go thatÂ could now, no longer be compensated – but more than that it was the fact that after literally losing time, making this column such a cornerstone and priority in my life-that I could be disposed of in such a perfunctory way. And of course I thought of my dad- and all those times he had asked me to come over, but I said, â€œNO daddy I can’t, I have to write my column.”Â
At the time- my column, my job, my profession seemed to hold so much importance and value- and in a heartbeat- it was gone- this column I devoted the better part of four and half years to… and so is my dad. And well it’s justÂ forcing me to put it all into perspective, unfortunately a bit too late for me and my dad, but not too late for me and those I hold dear. BecauseÂ when I think about it- when I’m nearing the end of my days, what will I want most? To be surrounded by the columns and articles I’ve written, or to be among the flesh and blood people who have shaped and influenced my life. And I’m going to have to say itâ€™s the latter.