Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Starting Again: Can my writing be translated into Kansan?

Tonight I taught my last writing class for Concord Community Education. I have had some amazing students pass through my classes since I began in the Spring, 2007. They have ranged from high school students to retirees. I’ve had ones with intellectual disabilities who wrote the most poignant and heart-felt pieces, and an amazing 13 year-old who will one day win the Pulitzer Prize. Many of my students have gone on to have their first pieces published, and some have completed their first books and are in the long process of finding a publisher. Many will go on to successful writing careers should they choose to continue writing. I’m going to miss teaching—so much so that I plan to turn the two classes into a 10 or 12 week writer’s workshop once I get settled into my new home.

A few weeks ago, one of my students gave me a card. In it she called me her first writing mentor. I was shocked, amazed and pleased to know I had officially graduated to mentor status! It took me right back to those beginning more than a decade ago when I knew I wanted to write but was uncertain I ever would.

Now, in so many ways, I’m back to that uncertain beginning again. When I first thought of moving back to the Midwest, I played a major game of tug o’ war with fear about my writing career. The majority of my writing is based in New Hampshire and this region. If I moved west, would I be starting all over again? I feared it would feel as if my life as a writer had never actually happened.

I know, it’s silly, but most fears are just that—irrational thoughts that keep us awake at night. I’ve published more 1,000 articles for crying out loud! And, best of all, three Kansas magazines and one newspaper want to talk to me about writing for them once I get there. Still, a little seed of fear nudges the back of my brain: “What if they change their minds?” What if they don’t think I’m good enough?” “What if I really do have to start again?”

I love writing. Food and travel are my two favorite topics. Here in New Hampshire I know where to find the good restaurants, food shops, farm stands, etc. In New England, I know the tourist sites, fun places to spend a sunny afternoon, and the great shops for souvenirs.

I know nothing about Kansas. In some ways, that’s part of the fun! I can’t wait to explore and discover what the state has to offer. (And I’d love suggestions, hint, hint!) On the flip side, what will I write about? Where do I go to fine a wine expert, someone who knows how to bake the perfect croissant, and who has the best take-out Chinese food?

Starting again—it’s scary in many ways, but also full of excitement and possibilities. And as far as my writing goes, I’ll just have to hope the talent I nurtured here in New Hampshire can be translated for my new home state.


  1. Kansas Translation.....
    I'm a little scared about the move 'cause I don't know what to expect. But, then again, that's life and that's what keeps things interesting. So, here goes.....

  2. Schondo, do you mean there is more to it than just learning to call “soda” “pop” again? :) Less Eastern cynicism and apprehension and more Midwestern c’est la vie?

  3. LOL.... You're not going to hear folks 'round here say c'est la vie. Maybe you could translate that to "whatever." And, you of all people should know that soda is the white powder you bake with.... pop is drinkable.

  4. I'm beginning to worry about you adjusting to the midwest restaurant translations....
    A friend of mine just told me about taking his wife to dinner in Kansas, but the waiter, for some reason, asked him for his order before the wife. Thinking this was some type of woman's rights type cultural adjustment from the east, he went ahead and ordered a rare KC Strip. When the waiter replied, "Aren't you worried about the mad cow?" my friend said, "Naw, she can order for herself." That's when things got interesting.....

  5. I hope you keep teaching! You inspired me so much and I have no doubt your writing will translate just fine!

  6. Mark, that's terrible! LOL
    Jen, I hope to keep teaching at some point. Thanks.