I’ve always enjoyed writing. In high school, English papers and other compositions were no problem. At Southwestern University, I majored in English and, while my classmates griped about all the papers due, I survived because of them. It was Math and Science that nearly took me down. My favorite professor was Dr. Walt Herbert, a distinguished, soft-spoken gentleman who was widely admired & respected across campus. He’d graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard, received his doctorate in English literature from Princeton, and held a prestigious endowed chair at the university. I took as many of his classes as I could and considered him a trusted mentor. When he gave my papers high marks, I felt I’d been paid the highest honor. So, in the spring of my senior year, I asked for a conference with Dr. H. I entered his office with sweaty palms and chokingly proclaimed, “I want to be a writer.” His answer was swift, brusque, and stifling. “A writer? Forget it. Go get a real job and write on the side. Very few people can make a living as a writer.” I was too flabbergasted and embarrassed to reply, so I turned on my heels and fled as quickly as possible, avoiding eye contact with him for the remainder of my time on campus. How could I have been so stupid to misinterpret his compliments and good grades? The next few weeks were spent moping and feeling dejected, but I worried most about what to do with the rest of my life. Graduation was impending, like doom, and I would soon be handed a Bachelor of Arts degree. “Teach?” asked friends and family, trying to be helpful. I wasn’t prepared to teach; I hadn’t taken even one Education class, nor did I think I had what it took to be a good teacher. I thought about the experience I did have, and recalled enjoying working in my father’s law office in prior summers. I’d never done any real legal work, just secretarial tasks, but I liked working in a dark paneled office surrounded by books, and the respect shown my dad and his partner by everyone from clients to the other secretaries was appealing. So, I bought an LSAT study guide, took the test, and applied to every law school in Texas. Just when it looked like law would not supply my future income, I was accepted to St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio. Things couldn’t have been more perfect! My boyfriend was there studying at the UT Health Science Center and was due to graduate in three years – the exact amount of time it would take me to finish law school! Eureka!
My parents, God bless ’em, weren’t exactly thrilled for me. They were surprised, as I’d never voiced an interest in law, nor had I taken any classes remotely related to the law. Mom kept tsk, tsking, asking if I didn’t want to be a court reporter. Really? No offense to the wonderful court reporters I’ve known and worked with, but while I had some decent typing skills, I didn’t fancy it as a career option. She just couldn’t comprehend how I could have any kind of a life, (i.e. a husband and children), while working full-time as an attorney. I understood that based on her experience as a loving wife and mother, she simply wanted that for me, but, I determinedly headed to St. Mary’s. I actually enjoyed law school and found that my previously honed writing skills came in handy. I was able to fill reams of blue books with my test answers, even when not exactly sure of the correct applicable legal premise. I always included an intro, a discussion of both sides of the argument, and a cogent conclusion. That proved sufficient and I was able to graduate in May, take the Bar exam in July and marry in August. Upon graduation, I accepted a job with a law firm that specialized in the defense of medical malpractice cases. It was interesting, sometimes fun, but mostly terrifying as I was thrown into depositions and courtroom hearings feeling very underprepared. Motions for summary judgment became my forte, as I could apply my writing and persuasive skills to try to convince the judge that the Plaintiff’s case should be summarily dismissed. My longing to keep the case from getting to trial was most effective in bringing out the very best of my writing talent.
After practicing for 12 years, I was able to stay home for 12, then went back to work for 2 more. When the firm I worked for fell apart and I found myself at home again, I brooded over what to do next. Although I hadn’t written much at all, I’d always spoken to my children about my love of writing, often “editing” their school papers, much to their dismay. “Write a blog,” exclaimed my middle daughter who was in the social media/marketing business. I hardly knew what she was talking about although I’d seen the movie “Julie and Julia,” and was mighty impressed with Julie’s successful blogging about her attempts at following Julia Child’s recipes. “Just get started and write,” my daughter kept saying as she walked me through the ins and outs of establishing a blog site. I came up with a title, “Nearly Empty-Nester,” to reflect the stage of life I inhabited, an Introduction, so that my readers (hopefully!) would get to know me, and slowly began writing a story about my daughters returning home after graduating from college. “All Roads Lead Home” was my first entry, published on January 23, 2013. Since then, I’ve posted 49 entries, acquired 72 followers, had over 5,000 views and received 250 comments, much to my surprised delight.
Writing is my therapy and I enjoy it everyday. I am flabbergasted, fascinated, and flattered that friends, acquaintances, and even some strangers, enjoy reading my entries. The feedback I’ve gotten motivates me to keep writing. Dr. Herbert’s advice was spot on, although he probably should have worked on his delivery. Though I stopped writing creatively for many years, I focused on a career that supported my family while my husband completed his medical education and training. And, while I will probably never be a “writer” who earns money for the craft, over the past year I have earned some peace of mind, confidence and great happiness while writing for fun.
Thanks for reading!