Posted by Pattie on 12/02/2003 11:03:00 PM


In August 1989, I was on the verge of bankruptcy, having been divorced, having gotten pregnant and having lost the baby all in one year. I needed a second job (or at least I thought so at the time) and I asked myself one Saturday morning, while getting ready for a conference, what would be fun to do. My answer was writing. I had always been the newsletter editor in every organization to which I ever belonged. I was the newsletter editor at my "day" job and I was enjoying it. "Wouldn't it be great to get paid to write?" I asked myself. I remembered a friend was an editor for a local newspaper and I made a mental note to give her a call.

Then I rushed out the door to go to the conference. The first person to greet me at the conference was the newspaper editor I had just thought about that morning. So, I asked her how one might get paid to be a writer. She responded that she was looking for a "stringer" and asked if I could come by her office the following Thursday with a resume.

I arrived on Thursday with resume in hand. She tossed the document into a drawer and handed me a camera and a note about a meeting the following Saturday about which she wanted me to write. One week to the day of thinking about getting paid for writing, I covered my first feature news story about a gathering of parliamentarians discussing Roberts' Rules of Order. I got paid $25 for the story.

I wrote over 200 articles for that newspaper and have been published in several other publications freelancing. But by 1992 I was sick of writing about land use variances, Easter egg hunts and the most interesting factoid I could find about yet another advertiser in the paper.

I went to school to get a degree so I could write about more interesting things. I went a little overboard in going back to school. I got a Ph.D.

The truth is that I still don't write much about the things of which I want to write. Most of my writings are reports about project findings and project evaluations. I do write for the radio show some. But that often feels like journalism all over again.

Carl (my partner in life) says that I write faster than he's ever seen someone write. It is not difficult for me to put words to paper. I am verbose.

But I don't often write what I want to say. I don't often write in formats and language that I enjoy. The Ph.D. has not earned me the opportunity to write from my heart any more than did being a stringer.

I am dammed up and bursting to the overflow and I just don't think I can hold it in much longer. I can't even remember why I'm supposed to hold it in. I just know that I haven't figured out how to open the flood gates yet.

on being a girl

there are days
when i am five years old
(a hypocrite who acts grown up)

just a little girl
who wants to be held
and loved

there are days
when i am a powerful old woman
(a wise sage who acts childish)

just a big woman
who wants to be heard
and heeded

there are days
when i am a sexy vixen
(a buxom goddess who acts playful)

just a sensuous being
who wants to be touched
and satisfied

there are days
when i am a brilliant scholar
(an intuitive mind who acts thoughtfully)

just another smart person
who wants to be respected
and published

from Before and After: Living Fat in a Thin World (Pattie Thomas, 1994)