TILT July 17, 2014

This is an ode to the written word.

I’ve always wanted to be a writer, for as long as I can remember.

Strike that, I’ve BEEN a writer for as long as I can remember. It started, as I imagine it does with most readers, with works of fiction.

Short stories about princesses and magic and life in general. I haven’t gotten much past that as far as fiction goes. I still like dreaming up stories and I don’t suppose I ever won’t. Fiction was my first love and it’ll stay with me until the day I die.

Journalism came later. I started reporting because I wanted a way to have a solid paycheck while still writing.

I knew early on I wanted to write features — the type of stories that almost read like fiction, with flowery language and lots of fluff.

I’m the queen of fluff.

It took me ages to learn how to write news, stories cut down to facts, without the adjectives and narrative I so loved in novels.

I became more skilled at writing stories about car crashes and shootings and facts and figures. I even liked it.

There have times in my life when writing became a bit of an obligation, sort of without me seeing it coming. That’s why I latched on so much to National Novel Writing Month. Fiction was still FUN.

It was weird for me to not want to write, even if it was for work, but I went through it. That’s when I sort of lost faith in writing as a whole.

But, luckily, I pulled it together.

In my new job, I write feature after feature. A story about a girl who was in a very traumatic car crash and is recovering five years later. Another about a woman who created a book to learn more about her photographer grandfather but then died before it was finished. I’ve learned about secret passages used in wartime in France and about a nurse moving to Anacortes from Finland and spending her vacation time going on 88 volunteer trips to more than 20 countries. Writers, artists, local heroes.

I get to learn about them all.

And then I get to write about them and make sure everyone else knows about them too.

That’s my favorite part about my job. I get to tell these stories to people who would never hear about them otherwise.

And it’s great.

Telling stories, that’s what I did when I was writing stories about princesses when I was 8. And that’s what I’m doing now. Telling stories, that’s what I love today.

Sure, I still want to be a famous novelist. I want to tell the stories that are swirling around in my head.

But you know what? The stories I get to tell now are even more interesting than the ones I make up. I wrote a novel about a group of bank robbers. But then this year I wrote about someone who researched a real bank robbery and shoot-out, around here.

Real life, that tops fiction, sometimes.

And me? I get to write both.

Because it’s what I love. Writing is a part of me and I wouldn’t have it any other way.