Writing columns, however, was difficult for me when I first started this job. I wondered if I really had anything to say that would interest people.
Then, when I would try to sit and write whatever happened to be on my mind at the time, I would often struggle with the words to get it just right.
Finally I would produce a final draft that I was pleased with. Then paper day would come and I would see it in print.
My first thought was usually “What have I done?” I will begin to write, sometimes pouring out my heart about this or that, to finally realize when I see it on the page that people for miles around will be reading what’s in my heart.
The first few times, I was terrified. There are so many people who I’ve never even met that know more about me than some people know about their friends.
But then I began to get feedback on my writing. The first few times someone told me they had loved something I had written, I couldn’t do anything other than blush and say a quick word of thanks.
Gradually, I have allowed myself to talk about some of the things I have written when someone asks me questions about a column. I guess I figure the person knows all about the situation anyway, so why not elaborate if I’m asked.
I’ve always been one of those who tells it like it is and I don’t hide the way I feel about things. I just am what I am. I’ll never change, because I don’t want to.
Still, I have that fear every time I write about a personal situation, wondering what kind of response I will get.
I have received cards, phone calls and e-mails from people thanking me for something I have written, saying that it has helped them in some way or that they can relate to my experience.
I have had people who I don’t even know to stop me on the street or in the grocery store, just to say they loved some certain column.
One reader even told me the other day to let him know the next time someone is rude to me and he would take care of the problem (from my Tuesday column). He also happens to be a friend, so I couldn’t help but laugh.
I still have one person, who I have gotten to know since I started working here, that insists on calling me “Farm Girl,” which refers back to the first column I ever wrote for the Journal.
I have even earned a group of faithful readers who never miss a column. It touches my heart for people to say they look forward to seeing what I’ll be writing about next.
And I’m sure that none of these people realize how it makes me feel for them to praise my work, especially on some of the matters that are rather personal.
Even more response has come in since Jeff and I started listing our contact information at the end of our columns.
Melody, a regular reader, sent an e-mail that was waiting for me on Monday morning when I first got to work.
She began by thanking me for opening myself up and sharing my life with my readers. She called my work inspiring.
What I’m sure she didn’t realize is that people like her, who are willing to take a few minutes out of their day to compliment me for what I do, is what is truly inspiring to me.
Knowing that I can make someone laugh, or bring a tear to someone’s eye, or help someone with something they may be experiencing in their life, that makes it all worth it.
It makes it worth the fear of letting others into my thoughts. It makes it worth the time that I take out of my day to write, then delete, then rewrite, then clear my screen and start all over again.
It makes it worth the fact that at times I feel exposed and that someone may look at me differently for something I have written.
It is strange to know sometimes that my face is plastered on the Opinion page, with the words describing my thoughts wrapped around that little photo.
It is strange that I often have people walk up to me and call me the “Bladen Journal lady.”
People recognize me from that little black-and-white photo that runs with my column, even though I need to get a new one since I look a little different now with half of my hair cut off.
I have met so many great people in the past few months, that I more than likely wouldn’t have gotten the chance to become friends with if I weren’t in this position.
I am blessed with the fact that Michael Simmons, in all of his newspaper experience, took a chance on “the new guy” and brought me in to show me the ropes of this business.
I have found out that newspaper writing is different from other methods, so much of what I have learned in English class over the years has been thrown out the window.
And article writing is different than column writing. The columns are my “fun stuff” to write, where I can talk about whatever I want, in my own little country-girl style.
Those writings are the ones that will hopefully allow me to reach out to others, and to touch someone’s heart in such a way that they feel the need to thank me for what I’m doing.
And it is those faithful readers, who offer words of praise (or offer their bodyguard services) that make this job the best one that I have ever had. I appreciate you all more than you could ever know.
Hugs to you all!
Griffin is a staff writer for the Bladen Journal. She can be reached by phone at 862-4163 or by e-mail at email@example.com.