“Try, try, try, and keep on trying is the rule that must be followed to become an expert in anything.” W. Clement Stone
When a writer friend said I should focus my blog on relationships, it wasn’t the first time I’d heard the idea. It was, however, the first time I thought about it seriously. I knew she was on target about my blog needing to be single-minded. Relationships have been my most passionate topic and the most popular among readers.
Besides passion, though, I wondered what qualified me.
Editors and publishers ask that same question anytime a writer proposes a new idea. I figured readers would wonder also. I recognized that until I answered it for myself, I’d keep asking, “Who are you to be writing about relationships?”
Experience is typically the first thing an employer asks about.
I’ve been in relationships with thousands of people for more than 58 years. If this were any other career, I’d be retired by now and have a gold watch.
One of those people has been my husband for 37 years. We’re still together because we loved each other the best we knew how, because God loved us a whole lot more, and because I think He wants me writing about our lives.
After marrying, I spent time and money on counseling, as well as dozens of workshops and conferences to restore our marriage, rethink my other relationships, and rebirth my inner child. The latter is not like being born again in a Baptist church, which I also had happen. Instead, it’s like coming out of a cocoon of blankets while participants confirm you’re a good and lovable person. I would’ve tried almost anything to fix them and me.
We have a 33-year-old son and a 31-year-old daughter. Both are married. Our daughter and her husband have a two-and-a-half-year-old daughter and a nine-month-old son. Between our three families, we have five dogs. Anyone who says getting together with that many people and pups doesn’t offer plenty of challenges and experience for writing about relationships is either lying or healthy. I’m neither.
I have several groups of friends I get together with every month. One of them is the same group of girls who used to eat lunch together on the front lawn of our high school. There are seven or eight of us who still live close by and make it point to stay in touch. Plus, I have all of you – my online friends who sustained me not so long ago during my toughest bout with depression.
Education is next on a job application.
Growing up in my family of origin was like being home schooled for a writing career. I witnessed the destruction of dysfunctional family patterns, the sickness behind keeping secrets, and the pain caused by addictions. Our home and relationships were messy, to say the least. Siddalee Walker from “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood” said it best when being interviewed about her writing, “If I’d had an easy childhood, I’d have absolutely nothing to write about.”
My formal education included attending a local college. I chose my major so I could find out what was wrong with me. I ended up with no answers and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. While teaching early childhood classes for eight years, I earned a Master of Arts in Counseling and an Educational Specialist in Counselor Education. These degrees landed me in internships working with alcoholics and homeless young adults trying to get their lives on track. I got job offers from both internships, but since my own life wasn’t on track, I took a job as a middle school guidance counselor (the lesser of the three evils). Later on, a trusted friend suggested I shy away from a career in counseling because I had enough issues of my own.
When I embarked on a writing career in 2007, I trained by way of classes, conferences, and a mentor. At first glance, the work seemed all about submissions and rejections. As it turns out, it’s as much about relationships as any career I’ve worked, however, it feels emotionally safer since I’m airing dirty laundry on a computer screen. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself so I’ll keep typing.
References usually finalize the decision to hire a candidate or not.
Several of my high school friends can offer references from a half-century back, depending on their hearing and their memories that day. We’re getting older, you know.
If I liken my relational experiences and education (and all the trying that went into both) to standards set by W. Clement Stone in his quote about becoming an expert, I’m qualified.
To move forward, is there a question you need to answer? If so, I hope you’ll answer it soon.
In This Together,