Thursday, March 02, 2006

A holy moment

Years ago, as a student at the University of South Carolina, I dreamed of becoming a writer. Because I have always been unconventional, I dreamed of being a writer without a day job. I aimed at earning a living by words.

I never realized the mix of skills I’d need to fulfill that dream. I didn’t know then I’d have to be a small business owner, marketer, secretary, and general errand girl as well as a writer to sustain myself. A friend of mine, W. Thomas Smith, Jr., is one of the only other writers I know personally who does the same thing I do. His career is far more distinguished than mine, because he’s written for the cream of the national crop and his credits are very impressive.

When I traveled to South Carolina this past weekend to read at the book festival there, I invited my fellow writer to have coffee with me. We traded stories about our constant deadlines, time-challenged workdays, and unrelenting email, how there’s never enough time in a day. Then he invited me to talk to his journalism students at the University of South Carolina where he is an adjunct faculty member in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications.

Today when I returned to the office, I made a pot of Popayan coffee and tinkered with a poem while I awaited Thomas's call. I marveled at the technology that would allow students in South Carolina to ask me questions as I sat here in my Florida office.

They asked fine questions—about the writing process, about the need to establish an area of expertise, about sonnets and poetry and inspiration—even about healthcare topics. Their voices sounded so positive and hopeful. And as we were ending the call, I thought of something to share.

Many years ago I sat in a classroom on that same campus, dreaming about doing exactly what I am doing now. It was a holy moment.

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