Szyperski: Finding my voiceWritten by Shannon Szyperski | | firstname.lastname@example.org
I never exactly wanted to be a writer. I wanted to take care of children as my life’s work, so I did. As I started to become an old pro at motherhood, however, I thought I had a few minutes to spare somewhere in my crazy life and decided that I might try my hand at writing an article or two for the local parenting magazine.
As luck would have it, I made acquaintance with then-Toledo Free Press editor, Michael S. Miller, and thought he would be the perfect resource to proofread my rusty prose. I felt slightly ridiculous, afraid he might view my request as an aspiring singer trying to slip her demo to a successful producer, but I really just needed someone to make sure I had crossed all of my T’s and dotted all of my I’s before I leapt unsophisticatedly into the great writing abyss.
He kindly obliged without so much as a hint of condescension for such a naive newbie. Much to my surprise, instead of handing back the red-marked pages I expected, he handed me the opportunity to write my own weekly column. Upon reflection, he handed me a new way to experience the world, a new way of life.
Having the professionalism to realize I had absolutely no idea how to be a writer, Miller gave me a crash course. He didn’t explain grammar or tell me what to write; he explained growing a thick skin, having to write even when you don’t want to and getting stared at in public by people who can’t put their finger on how they don’t quite know you — the things I truly needed as I was just starting out.
I didn’t need to know how to write; I needed to know how to be a writer. Attempts to give credit to Miller and Toledo Free Press for making me a writer are quickly dismissed by the named parties.
TFP isn’t a place where you are molded into a certain likeness; it’s a place where everyone shows up with their individual talents and we all make something great together. Even as a writer, it’s difficult to express ample appreciation for such a place, a place that makes you feel like you have a voice and your words have a home.
If I’ve learned anything after almost seven years as a professional writer, however, it’s that simply stated is usually best. Thank you, Toledo Free Press, for giving Toledo a choice and me a chance. Happy 10th!
Shannon Szyperski can be reached at email@example.com.