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February 5, 2022: The Flip Side of the Writing/Interviewing Coin

I was at one time an aspiring journalist. I worked for several Alaska papers, then decided to forego this aspect of my career and focus on writing creative nonfiction. I have only once in a while looked back. Today was one of those days when I looked back over my shoulder and said, “what if?” Meaning, what if I’d stayed the course and continued to work in the print journalism field.

I might have, had I gotten what I most wanted, a job writing feature articles. This never materialized, in part because you work your way up to this. I was not a shining star as a general reporter. I just didn’t take to writing about meetings. I struggled to write

Melina and Alys

about things like planning board meetings; in fact, I’d stay up late at night, very late at night, trying to get it all right. And I seldom did. Then, after my stories came out, I’d be told how I erred.

Going on for my MFA, and writing in a more creative fashion, restored my lost confidence. After, I went on for a Ph.D. thinking that I’d be studying the composing process of writers. By then, critical theory, which supposedly had a grounding in rhetorical theory, was in vogue. Once again, I was lost.

My career fizzled like the end stage of a fourth of July sparkler. One thing about teaching in academic settings, you go to conferences and make (in my case) writerly connections.

Our moving here was the death knell to my teaching/writing career. The nail in the coffin came when, after writing two books, Pete lacked the time to edit them and assist me in getting them published.

All the above was on my mind today, as Alaska Daily News Reporter Emily Mesner did extensive interviews with Pete and Bill at the recycling center, then came over to the U-Haul Storage unit and interviewed Melina and me. We were more than ready for her. We had devised the best of all photos op. We’d piled a U-Haul cart high with books going to Barrow, and planned on telling her a story, one that centered around the National Geographics (which we’d loaded into the TOTE van) and the Barrow books. We did this, and I think, did it well. We then went on non-stop, for over an hour, conversing with her about the project. It was a very productive session.

As we were talking, I felt a pang of envy, for here was this young and very intelligent individual, interviewing me. She was also a reporter for the Alaska Daily News – I recalled that I’d once had an interview with this paper – the interviewer was a news reporter who had just had heart surgery. I had just spent the last dime I’d had on hand on a round trip Fairbanks/Anchorage ticket.

I didn’t get the job. I don’t recall why this was.

I’m now involved in this major volunteer effort. I’m happy doing it. But I will always look at those up and coming young people like Emily and think, what if?

Next: 37. 2/6/22: Mediating Between the Inner and Outer Landscape

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