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A brief history of everything

With apologies to Bill Bryson (who actually did write a book, “The Brief History of Everything”), here is a brief history of my journalism background. I got my first article published when I was just 13 years old. It was a fictional account of two teenagers stuck on a roller coaster when the Rapture happened, written back in my holy roller days (which, by the way, are loooonnng over). I stuck the manuscript in an envelope, sent it off, and voila, got a check for $50. “That was easy,” I thought. My next two articles were for Seventeen magazine, just a few years later. I wrote about doodling, and another about what it was like to be a black sheep writer in a scientific family. (Horrors of horrors, that I would choose a creative field over a STEM career!) That started my freelance writing endeavors – I kept a notebook of rejection letters that I carefully collated with pride, not shame. “Look! I got a letter from the New York Times!” Never mind that it was a rejection note. Looking back, I’m amazed at my self-motivation during my teenage years. I guess it pays to be unpopular in school – one can spend more time at the trusty old typewriter. And, dare I age myself, it wasn’t even electric at first. Yikes. Anyway, if you are not yet dozing off to sleep, these early endeavors led to a job as a science writer intern at Argonne National Laboratory, where my father was a senior scientist. I wrote about protons while my dad worked with neutrons. I also scored a job at Great America Amusement Park, writing for the employee newsletter. Yup, free roller coaster rides! (Why are roller coasters an ongoing theme in this all-too-long narrative?) Then my first “real” job after graduating from University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana was at Scripture Press Publications, where I edited a publication for teens called FreeWay. This was (zzzzzzz) followed by a features editor role at the Lowell Sun newspaper, my first news room gig. My ten-year-tenure there ended when I decided I had enough of a nasty editor. “You’ll have a hard time finding another job,” she told me. Oh yeah? Hello, Boston Herald, where I beat 12 very-well qualified candidates out for a magazine editor job. I edited the Home, Education, Brides, Holiday, and Shopping supplements, working with a staff of reporters and photographers. A few years after 9/11, newspapers began to tank and the Herald offered generous buy-outs, which I decided to take. And the rest, as they say, is history. I’m so glad I followed my heart and passions. Write on!

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