How long have you been on the job?
I started writing seriously in 2004 after watching Mom and Dad suffer in their last days. That experience
made me confront some feelings I didn't even know I had.
What are the work conditions like?
My work conditions can be whatever I make them. I've written at the beach shaded by a pink umbrella
or from a lounge chair at the pond where I watched snakes play.
What kind of special training is required for this job?
All that is required is a pencil or a pen and the willingness to closely observe your surroundings and draw
comparisons. It helps to associate with and learn from more experienced writers and teachers. To that
end, I meet weekly with a group of seasoned writers - we've been together for about four years. Also,
I am an active member of Green River Writers and the Kentucky State Poetry Society. I completed
Spalding University's Community Creative Writing Workshop in 2008.
I also recommend that you read everything that you can long the way. Let the words of those who have
gone before filter through you and add another layer of possibility.
What is your title/position?
I am a poet and a board member for Green River Writers, Inc. and the Kentucky State Poetry Society.
What affect does this job have on family life?
My husband, friends, and extended family seem to respect and even cheer my bizarre obsession to capture
situations on paper, even though they may not understand it. I'm not sure I do, either. I'm just thankful for
their patience. Not everyone has that luxury.
What kind of hours does this job require you to work (weekend, evenings, variable, etc.)?
The need to write can strike at any time. Although I can't always fully honor it, I always keep a
notebook in my pocket and beside my bed. A writing instrument is either with me or within arm's reach.
If nothing else, I can jot short notes to jog my memory at a later time. I am always thinking "Writing" and average close to twenty hours a week working at the Oldham County Public Library. I'm going to say that I
spend another twenty hours or so writing and preparing assignments for my Thursday group and promoting
my work online and otherwise. Right now, I am promoting my first chapbook, Digging Bones, which is to
be released later this month by Finishing Line Press.
What would you say is the average starting salary for this field?
I am a freelance poet, so there is no starting salary. I entered and have won and placed in several contests
that have paid along the way. I won $250.00 in 2007 for a Valentine's Day essay contest sponsored by
Red Robin Restaurants. In 2008, I placed sixth out of 3800 entries in a Writer's Digest competition and
won books and cash totaling $75.00. Last year, I won first and second place in the Chattahoochee Valley
Writers' Conference with a pay-off of $250.00. There have also been smaller pay-outs along the way.
That is why I think it is important to acquire formal training if possible. A degree in English would be a
worthy goal and would certainly up the ante in terms of teaching and being taken seriously. I regret that I did
not take advantage of those opportunities when I was younger. I have not completely ruled out the
possibility of getting involved in an MFA program.
What is an average day like?
As I said, I go through my days, whether or not I'm working at the library, with paper and pen to capture my
feelings. Sometimes, my voice will take over and I've learned to honor that as best I can. On a few
occasions, I have dropped a pan back in dish water to run to my desk, to get the words down. In some
cases when I've done that, a strong (and almost finished) piece has presented itself.
What problems and/or dangers and/or disadvantages does this job have?
I'm not sure there's a downside, although the writing does take over your life if you let it. But, that can be a
good thing and I find myself thinking of things I can do to support my habit. In my case, others could say of
my writing that it provides only a negligible payback in terms of dollars. Although, I don't really see it that
way. I didn't start down this path to earn an income - it was more to learn my true feelings and to be honest
with myself. In some respects, it may have been the first time I had ever done that.
How stable is this job?
I suppose it is as stable as I am and that makes me wonder. Poetry books are selling like crazy these days
and more and more people seem to thrive on the honesty that comes through the page.
What lead you to choose this career and would you choose it again if you could change your choice?
I didn't choose poetry - it chose me. I couldn't ignore it if I wanted to. As grammatically incorrect as it is,
my answer to the question, "Why do you write?" would have to be "Because I can't not write."
What one piece of advice would you give someone wanting to go into this field?
It would have to be "Read, read, read. Surround yourself with the works of writers who you admire. Read
the works of those you don't. Learn from them. Learn to trust your mind and to honor it. Spill your words
uncensored on the page -- there will be plenty of time to go back and change that tree to a sycamore.
I just finished listening to KET's One to One hosted by Bill Goodman. He interviewed writer Sue Halpern about her new book on dementia and memory loss. Even though Ms. Halpern writes primarily non-fiction, she wrote her story as fiction because she felt like she could treat the subject more effectively. Listening to her interview makes me want to run right out and read some of her work.