Kaye’s Corner: Reflections

MEEKER | This week, I wish to express my appreciation for the recent “Kaye’s Corner” designation in the Herald Times. This is an honor I didn’t expect or seek. I’m what journalism calls a guest contributor or feature writer, which means I select what I write and the paper prints if it chooses.

Kaye Sullivan

My grateful thanks to all of you who take time to thank me in person for my column in random encounters at the grocery, rec center, church, post office, or wherever. Knowing that someone, even if only one person, appreciates what I write is always encouraging.

To me, writing is both a joy and hard work. Sometimes, the words flow easily, and an early draft is a sound reflection of my thoughts. I compose many stories in my head before I start typing and use that mental process to start creating a possible article.

Other times, the writing is a challenge, and it is difficult to find the right words and core theme. Struggling with thoughts and words also helps me clarify my mental thoughts – what is this sad or frustrating feeling? What are my joys? How is my world today?

Over the years, I’ve learned to look at a blank page as a challenge and hunker down to write when deadlines approach. With effort and concentration, the words usually follow. Writing, like piano practice, (see last week’s column “Practice Makes Perfect”) comes easier with routine effort and getting “in the flow.”

In my office are many discarded drafts that didn’t fit our newspaper, were too personal, too emotional, or irrelevant. The rejects also help me learn and get more focused on what’s worth publishing. Parts of some drafts may become the seed corn for revised articles in the future.

I’ve been writing most of my life even back to my high school newspaper as co-editor. My husband and I have published newsletters related to our businesses for over thirty years and still launch a monthly art newsletter.

Ruthless editing of one’s own work is essential. This article has been through at least five major revisions. Behind what you readers don’t see is endless checking of subject-verb agreement, transitions between paragraphs, word repetition, story focus, references, and brevity that means about 800 words for my column.

I like to draft articles, let them sit so I gain some distance and perspective, then review to determine if they read clearly a few days later. Thankfully, my husband is also a talented writer and gives me honest feedback.

A friend asked me how I decide what to write and honestly, I don’t know the answer. Sometimes when tootling through town, I see something of interest. Other times I’m gardening or exercising and sorting out story ideas. If I read something of interest, it may stimulate me to research something similar in our part of the world.

Getting to know Meeker through my articles, interviews, and research has been quite insightful. And, it seems I’m not the only one who appreciates feature stories that give us a breather from the often heart wrenching news.

Thank you all who have contributed to stories, to readers, my best critic husband Jay, and especially the Herald Times for embracing “Kaye’s Corner.”

By KAYE SULLIVAN – Special to the Herald Times