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A Writer’s Origin Story

Updated: Oct 8

By Cheryl Scheir

A favorite genre of mine when I was a kid was the fortunately/unfortunately story. You know the flow:

  • Fortunately, Cheryl won an all-expense-paid trip to Europe.

  • Unfortunately, the plan malfunctioned mid-flight.

  • Fortunately, Cheryl had a parachute.

  • Unfortunately, the parachute wouldn’t open.

  • Fortunately, Cheryl was falling straight into a haystack.

  • Unfortunately, there was a pitchfork in the haystack.

And so on…

My life has a writer has shaped up much the same, but without so many “unfortunatelys” and no pitchforks of note:

  • Fortunately, Cheryl won first place in a second-grade poetry competition.

  • Unfortunately, a visiting guest speaker selected Cheryl’s high school journalism piece as a prime example of “how not to write.”

  • Fortunately, Cheryl bounced back with local, regional, and national writing contest wins during her high school career.

  • Also, fortunately, Cheryl went to Lehigh University, where she won the “Best Philosophy Essay” award in her graduating year.

  • Unfortunately, Cheryl followed up that win with a graduate school strikeout and a couple of disheartening, dead-end health insurance jobs (customer service--yuck; stay tuned for more details in a future post).

  • Fortunately, Cheryl still kept her hand in writing, even when she took time off to have her children. She hustled herself up a weekly family humor column gig for her local paper, sold an article to a national magazine, and was eventually recruited/trained by a medical writer friend for subcontracting work, based on her writing and (seemingly dead-end) health insurance background.

The rest is history. I’m now a self-employed writer who is as busy as I want to be. I’ve also got this blog and the literary/arts magazine that houses it. Very, very sweet.

The lesson? Don’t give up. Thank heaven for your networks of friends. Keep doing what you’re doing as you wait for the day that your challenges hand you golden opportunities. Most importantly, keep on writing. You may be surprised where you end up!

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