Life often takes you on a journey in which no two paths are the same. You might not always know where you’re going or where your path will lead you – but you have to be willing to take risks.
My career as a writer didn’t begin with a big masterplan. I wasn’t thinking about achieving any kind of longevity or notoriety – let alone eventually being recognized as a local columnist for The Altoona Mirror. I don’t come from a long line of writers, so I didn’t follow in anyone’s footsteps. Nor did I know any prolific writers when I first ventured into writing on a professional level.
Being born with cerebral palsy and living my life in a wheelchair, I simply wanted to be heard and understood. Nothing more, nothing less. In fact, that was the main reason why I decided to try to become a writer – whether or not I turned out to be good, bad or indifferent.
I always knew I wanted to write – from the time I could pick up a pencil or crayon and draw long, scribbly lines on a blank canvas. It was a creative way for me to express myself in a way that my disability didn’t fully allow at the time. If anything, it at least gave me an outlet to bring my thoughts and feelings to the surface – but something was stirring deep down inside my soul.
I started to realize that writing wasn’t just my hobby. It was my purpose, my calling. I also started to realize that if I wanted people to take me seriously as a writer, I knew I’d have to be relentless in my pursuit – not only because I was new, but most importantly, because I had everything to prove.
Not only that, but I wanted to gain the trust of an audience before I even considered knocking on the door at The Huffington Post or any other national publication. I didn’t want anyone to read my work and take pity on me and think, “Oh, someone wrote that for her!” I wanted a chance to earn that trust and potential respect on my own.
My monthly column for The Mirror, entitled The View from Here, has afforded me with all of those opportunities – and then some. The fact I’m able to reach so many readers in Altoona and Blair County, while building a trustworthy relationship with my local audience, is more than I could have ever asked for when I started my career almost ten years ago. The initial goal in writing my column was to help others feel comfortable talking to me. I’m proud to say I’ve accomplished that goal, as local readers now come up to me instead of my family.
It’s incredibly rewarding to know people are getting something valuable out of my column, because I wouldn’t be where I am today if I didn’t have that solid foundation. That hometown connection has also opened many new doors as I move forward.
I’m a hometown girl with big dreams. If the sky truly is the limit, I’m ready and willing to see how far I can reach!