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Barking In The Write Direction

Mom and I created Misfit Island four years ago when I moved from California to small-town Texas to care for her. We live in a community of 30K and have a college in town. We are on about 30 acres of family land in the Piney Woods of Deep East Texas.

To get along and share a project, we began adopting unwanted dogs. At one point, we had 20 residents. That was too many and our funds didn’t cover care for that many. Dogs get dumped in our woods and five of our residents came out of the thick brush.

I watch these dogs traverse Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. First, physical needs are met, then socialization and a feeling of safety develops. Finally, they let their personalities come out and they bark! At the moon. At a deer. While chasing a rabbit.

These discarded beings use their voices to let the world know they are still here. On the universal radar of life, they insist on showing up. That is exactly why I write. I study one subject to its deepest intensity each year.

On New Year’s Eve, I write a summary of the past 12 months and write goals for the new year. I also choose my annual topic; addiction was last year’s, natural healing is this year’s. Next year is open. After I study intensely, I reflect what I’ve learned in articles, columns and Q&A sessions with readers.

As a writer, my goal is to reflect people in a way that they mirror the current human condition. Sometimes my words are profile. Other times, I hope they educate. I made a pledge long ago to avoid creating pieces that reflect or exploit bad news.

With a journalism degree from SMU, I had no concept of what a news career would look like. I did a few months of on-air. Quickly, I was the ‘blonde.’ “Where did you get the earrings you wore last night?,” was the most in-depth question I was asked.

Off-air, it was strange to feel people staring at a restaurant. Odder when they approached with serious queries like “When is your birthday?” or “What’s your favorite food.” My constant thought was “Why did I go to college?”

Many times over the years, I generated income in other places to allow me to write. I earned little for my actual editorial work but always managed to stay in print since college. However, print is a dying business. Newspapers will one day be in antique stores, like the toys I grew up with.

One idea I have is to enroll in the local university for my Master’s. Maybe, I can incorporate an advanced degree with immersion into the electrical age of media. News has become instantaneous. Print will be for ‘think pieces.’

At 54, my voice is blooming and an audience is forming and giving me great feedback. People are starting to listen and respond. My readership is up in the thousands. I have a distance to go but I’m barking in the right direction. Finally.

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