I’ve been writing a weekly column in the Daily Mountain Eagle since January of 2007.
Sometimes I manage to string words together that resonate with readers. I know this because from time to time I get stopped in the grocery store or at Wal-Mart, and they say the column I wrote this week (and they call the topic by name) “really hit home with me.”
“I feel like you’re writing about my life,” is another phrase I hear a lot. I am humbled and flattered that people read my work.
This past week when we played for the Merchants Association’s First Friday night event, a woman came up to me with a faded-yellow copy of a Daily Mountain Eagle LifeStyles page from 2008.
She said that she’d been carrying the page around in her car because it contained a column I’d written that changed her life. She hoped to run into me one day and get me to sign it for her.
The only word I could manage was, really?
I could tell by the look in her eyes that she had a story to tell. She went on to explain that five years ago she was a single mom with six children at home. With that many mouths to feed, life is tough, but apparently it had been particularly unkind to her, and she’d pretty much become a hermit never leaving her house.
She told me that after reading my column, she made a decision to start going out one day a month and take some time for herself.
She said she’s done it every month since then and because of those words, she’s met incredible people, made new friends and taken back her life.
She asked if I’d consider autographing the paper, which I was more than happy to do. I scribbled something on the page, handed the paper back to her, and then hugged her. I told her I’m glad my words had helped.
The second thing that happened this week, I landed another newspaper for my writing.
I’ve pitched my column to several newspapers in Mississippi, Georgia and Alabama with some success.
The publisher of a large paper in eastern Alabama was mildly interested in my work, but I never got a commitment.
I decided to send the publisher my column each week until either he started running it or told me to stop sending them.
This past week’s column on Why I Love October struck a chord with him.
He told me that he too is in the autumn of his life, and that the column nailed it for him.
He ran it this week.
I love living on our small farm, but sitting on my screen porch in the suburbs of Empire (that always gets a laugh from people who live out here in the sticks), jabbing away at the keyboard of my laptop, I sometimes feel a little isolated. Writing can be a lonely job.
There were times I’ve wondered if what I write matters. I think one of the saddest fates anyone could face is going to the grave wondering if they made a difference.
It’s gratifying to work in a profession where you can sometimes see your work did make a difference.
Rick Watson is a columnist and author. His latest book Life Happens is available on Amazon.com. You can contact him via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.