Musing by a Columnist
by Patricia C Behnke
Rated "G" by the Author.
edited: Monday, March 28, 2005
Posted: Monday, March 28, 2005
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Over five years later and it's still just Another View
My first column, written in 1998, taught me the importance of writing as a healing tool.
Another View has been with me ever since and through the words I express here I have healed some of the deepest wounds of my life.
I wrote that first column six months after the death of my mother. I kept remembering her hands as she lay dying, and so I wrote a column about what those hands had represented to me throughout my life. When my writers’ group urged me to get it published, I gave it to the editor of the local weekly, and he decided to run it. I was surprised at the emotion that others showed when telling me they had enjoyed the piece.
One woman told me it had finally helped her heal the loss of her own mother.
I still needed some convincing and encouragement to continue.
The editor of that weekly paper, Bo Turner, visited me in the hospital in 2000 as I awaited surgery for the removal of one side of my thyroid.
“Are you going to write about your experiences?” he asked.
I did not think ramblings on my thyroid troubles would be interesting. But I could not stop thinking about sharing my story on this common medical problem. So I wrote about it in a column.
And again I received calls and emails from people who had similar experiences.
Soon afterwards, Bo asked if I would contribute a column every other week. While I felt slightly apprehensive about the commitment — I wondered if I could find topics — I decided to take the plunge.
Several years later I even managed to make it a weekly affair and found I had plenty to say about a whole lot of subjects.
When I write my columns I usually know the story I want to share, or I know the point I want to make. However as I write this one I only know it will be my last one written just for the Tri-City area and so my thoughts and ideas and stories tumble together making neither story nor point.
But perhaps that is the point of this column. Certainly the hundreds I have written are a jumble of my life and the lives of others around me. Since 1998, I have lived and loved and grieved and rejoiced and fell and rose, and through it all, I was blessed to have as my companion this column which helped me heal and kept me connected to many special people.
In the next few months I will be moving away from this place I have called home for the past 25 years. At times when I contemplate the move, I am overcome with sadness, and other times I am excited about the possibilities. One thing remains — this place will always be a touchstone for me.
The beauty of freelance writing allows me to live wherever I choose. It also affords me the opportunity to remain a perpetual student of the human condition. That never becomes tedious or boring.
Right now I am writing about a man who was held hostage in Angola in 1990. Rebel forces held him in the jungle while they negotiated with Chevron, the man’s employer, for a ransom to help their struggle for independence. I am honored this man and his wife chose me to tell their story. For them it is a way to heal; for me it is a way to put to use all that I have learned about writing and living in the last few years.
My experiences working as a reporter taught me more about writing than any class ever did. I had an editor who showed me how to write everything from the dog bit girl to commissioner hit mayor stories. I would not trade any of it, even the bad stuff. Anyone remember that real, live bomb left at the door of my former employer? That one event gave me the first line of my third novel,Sweet Lady, now with my agent waiting for a publisher to grab it.
“The bomb sat on Kelly Sands’ desk an hour before she noticed it,” the story begins.
This is not the last Another View column I will write. Beginning in March, I start a writing/editorial relationship with Tower Publications. Another View will appear in their monthly Senior Times magazine distributed to readers in Alachua and Marian Counties.
I do appreciate every one who helped bring me to this point in my career.