From journalist to human resources manager to professor to writer, the common thread of my work is communication. I look for stories that will resonate and hold meaning for others. I love research, writing, investigating, interviewing, rewriting and editing.
Nothing wasted is how I try to view my life. I still have student loans after four degrees, none of which I now use. But my experiences in getting them–the three careers, marriages and children? All worth it.
Being a writer is by far the most gratifying and the least extrinsically rewarding career. I’m pretty sure writing chose me at four. I wrote poems in pocket spiral notebooks instead of wiggling in a church pew, begging my dad for gum.
For most of my life, I’ve been fascinated with work and workers. Sadly, I never met Studs Terkel, but I’ve loved his book Working for the last 35 years. I know labor history–I taught it and various labor relations courses for 20 years–so when people start blaming unions for failed businesses or our poor economy, I suppress an overwhelming urge to slap the stupid out of them. Instead I say Next time you have a Saturday or Sunday off work, you might thank the labor movement.
Of course labor’s history, like that of business and government, is riddled with racial and ethnic discrimination. In graduate school my interest in race relations fell under the umbrella of social group identity theory. The boxes we check (e.g., gender, race, nationality) aren’t as powerful as the meaning we attach to them–how much we identify with what they mean to us.
Many of my new poems and short stories are about work in diverse contexts told by workers who strongly identify with one or more of their social identities.