Years ago, I saw a huge Saint Bernard cowering in the waiting area of my veterinarian’s office. His name was “Tiny.”
I found this very amusing, and my vet said that in her experience pets almost always grow into their names and they become a good fit.
Tiny was big in stature but shy by nature.
Columns work the same way.
Eight years ago when I began writing for Go Triad, my editor at the time, Jeri Rowe, asked me what I wanted to call my column. I pondered for a bit and came up with what I thought was a terribly clever name — “A View from a Broad.”Continue Reading
Jeri thought that was “nice” but suggested “A Broad View” instead.
I guess you know who won that debate. And he was right.
I was approached in the summer of 2004 about writing a freelance column in a rotation with three other writers. I was to be the “gay columnist.” I never considered the moniker as tokenism because the discussion surrounding the inception of my column was thoughtful and intentional.
I was thrilled to be asked and even more excited that my community would have a voice.
And I secretly fancied myself to be a lesbian Carrie Bradshaw sans fabulous wardrobe and my picture on a bus.
For the first couple of years, I wrote about events in the LGBT community and profiles of community leaders. And those were “nice” columns — informative and hopefully laced with a bit of wit.
I can’t recall if I ran out of events or just got a bit braver in my writing, but I started writing about more personal things — turning 50, losing a dear aunt — life stuff that we all face at some point.
I also began sharing my reflections on what was currently in the news — celebrity deaths, iPhones and Facebook.
And a lovely thing happened — I started hearing from readers, many of them complete strangers.
They would send an email and share a line or two about how they related to something I had written. I was astonished and flattered that anyone would take the time to do that.
And then in late 2009, I wrote a column about the end of a significant relationship. I turned it in to my editor, Carla Kucinski, and she wrote back with a simple directive that has informed and influenced my writing in ways I could have never imagined. “Say more.”
I think for a long time it was enough, for me at least, that people seemed to enjoy my columns and would say nice things about them. I’ve always been a “pleaser” and making people laugh has always been easy for me.
But sometimes I felt like a voyeur in my own column, carefully keeping my distance as a writer.
Something in Carla’s directive terrified but empowered me. And so I began saying more — more about me — deeply personal thoughts and feelings about life and death and love and loss.
And a really amazing thing happened — I began hearing from more and more readers who would say things like, “Yes. Me, too,” or something that never failed to touch me, “Your column made me cry.”
I think that is perhaps the most nearly perfect connection between writer and reader — to genuinely move someone with your story. And people shared their own sacred stories with me — the death of a parent, the loss of a love, the despair of loneliness. The more I shared as a writer, the more my readers shared with me, and I became a better writer.
Somehow, along the way, I was no longer known as “the gay columnist.” I was just a writer who happened to be gay, and “A Broad View” became a good fit.
I can only hope you’ve enjoyed the view half as much as I have.
Contact Addison Ore at firstname.lastname@example.org