Written word will never be obsolete

Mielke: Painting word pictures fun and rewarding career choice

  • Sep. 21, 2017 9:44 a.m.

A very long time ago, I made this huge, life-changing decision.

I decided the time had come to step out of my cozy little kitchen with red geraniums blooming on the white curtained windowsill and the acrid smell of something burning in the oven and go to work.

And so it came to be that one morning I resolutely got up, ushered my three children out the door for school, homework and lunch kits in hand, cleared off the breakfast table, swept the floor and took some hamburger out for supper.

I exchanged my blue jeans for my least wrinkled skirt and a pretty blouse, combed my hair into some semblance of neatness, experimented with a little lipstick and eye liner and pronounced myself ready to go to work.

Unfortunately, the rest of the world didn’t see me coming. And, if they did, they were quick to look the other way.

It seemed no one was particularly interested in hiring a housewife whose claim to fame was baking melt in your mouth delicious chocolate chip cookies or an uncanny ability to get serious grass stains out of white T-shirts.

But, undaunted, I persevered and one day someone actually hired me.

I was elated and for one ego filled moment in time, I was quite taken with my new position and myself.

My first job happened to be as a typesetter and, weirdly enough, it also happened to be in a newspaper office.

I still remember my first day at work. I was so excited and proud.

I can’t remember exactly when I got a little bored with my ability to type quickly and efficiently and not do much else, except wait for coffee breaks and home time.

I just remember thinking, “I can write as well as this,” when I typed in the editor’s copy. I couldn’t of course, but as they say, ignorance is bliss and, anyway, l told myself ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’. And, so began my writing career. I wrote after the kids were in bed and sometimes when they were not. I wrote when I got home from work and I wrote when the rest of the family were busy doing something else.

And then I tucked the pages away in a drawer somewhere and went to work.

Alas, as any writer knows, the written word tucked away in a drawer somewhere will stay there forever. And so, prompted by this little voice in my head that didn’t know enough to shut up, I decided, once again, to step out into the unknown darkness of the unfamiliar.

With my latest article in hand, I shuffled shyly into the editor’s office.

“I wrote this,” I muttered, shoving a rather crumpled paper into her hand. I immediately looked down, suddenly becoming quite fascinated with my shoes. I totally expected her to smile condescendingly, scan the piece quickly and tell me to get back to work.

Well, I’m sure it was a slow news week that week, but before I knew it, someone took a mug shot of me and the article ran, large as life, in the very next edition.

I should have been proud. I should have been excited, but, as I recall, I was neither.

I was, instead, thinking rather longingly of anonymity and my safe and comfortable typesetter job.

That was more than 30 years ago.

And, here I am, still using the written word to the best of my ability to paint word pictures for my readers.

I love it.

I am, of course, quite aware that my humble attempts at crafting a weekly account of the world, according to me, remain far less than perfect, But I have to say, I’m grateful that, one day, I took a risk to be more than I thought I could be.

I would be so obsolete now, if I hadn’t.

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