Prov 17:22

A merry heart doeth good like a medicine... - Proverbs 17:22

Friday, September 25, 2015

Confessions of a Columnist

Five years ago this week, I walked into the offices of the Portage Daily Graphic for an appointment with then-editor, Elisha Dacey. Mustering my bravest, most confident fa├žade, I asked her for a regular column and gave her three samples of the type of pieces I had in mind. She gave me a contract on the spot and I walked home with a goofy smile on my face and fear in my heart. But I haven’t missed a deadline yet.
In honor of this monumental anniversary, I thought I’d offer a gift. But first, a few highlights from the last five years.

Funniest comment from a reader
Part of the fun of writing a column is meeting readers in the community. I met one such woman at the voting polls one year. When I told her my name, she told me she reads my column. “I thought you were shorter,” she said.
I assured her I would try to sound taller in the future.

Most common assumption
Readers often assume I work at the Graphic headquarters. After my initial interview, I did not actually step into their offices again until the paper celebrated its 120th birthday in its newly remodeled facility this past June. My columns are emailed from home each week. During the past five years, I’ve managed to burn through five or six editors without having met most of them face to face!

Mistaken identity
My sister Shanon often gets mistaken for me by readers who recognize her from my photo in the paper, leading me to believe she looks more like me than I do. The icing on the cake came the day a reader approached me and said, “So I was reading your sister’s column the other day…”

Worst accusation
I can’t say I’ve received much in the way of negative criticism, which can only mean either nobody’s reading or I’m not writing anything controversial enough. One reader, however, called me “afraid of Science” after I expressed concern over children being taught the theory of evolution as fact.

Greatest challenge
The hardest thing about column-writing is coming up with a topic each week. It only gets harder as time goes by and you’ve already covered everything you care to cover. I really respect my fellow columnists who stay within a theme, the way all proper columnists should. Mine are all over the place and still I rack my brain! My best attempt at nailing down a theme was “Faith and Humour.” I hope each piece includes one or the other—and sometimes both. For the next five years, I’m open to suggestions!

I quit this column nearly every week —in my mind. “Enough already,” I tell myself. “Nobody’s reading, why are you bothering with this drivel? You’re trying to be Dave Barry, Ann Voskamp, and Max Lucado all rolled into one and it’s never going to happen. After this column, let’s call it finished.”
But, like a bad habit, the next week finds me pecking away at the keyboard again.

Greatest reward
On those occasions when a reader takes the time to share a word of appreciation for a column that encouraged them on their faith journey or made them chuckle, you can bet I cherish their words and save them forever.

A gift for you
Here’s your chance to win your choice of a Chicken Soup for the Soul book. O Canada! was published in 2010 and Inspiration for Nurses in 2015. As well as 100 stories by other contributors, each book contains a story that originated right here in my column. If you’d like to win a free signed copy, email me at by Sunday, September 27 at 3:00 pm with the words “Book Draw” in the subject line. If your name is drawn, I will contact you, ask which book you prefer, and see that you receive it.

Thanks for reading!


  1. Hmmm...even after I met you, I thought you were shorter.

    1. And I still think you're shorter, Mike. But I could be wrong.

  2. I read your column faithfully. I always think having my own column in the paper would be fun...a bit like my own blog, I guess. Yeah some days I wonder why I keep doing this. I guess part of the reason is, I love to write and this is a pretty good platform. Anyway, Congratulations on 5 years as a Daily Graphic columnist!

    1. That would be a GREAT idea, Linda! A regular column from someone on a Hutterite colony would be fantastic for closing the gaps between cultures. I'd love to see one from a First Nations writer, too. Fortunately for me, I got in when the Graphic was actually hiring. That door could close any day, so I don't want to take it for granted.

  3. It's been a while since they even excepted articles...I've given up offering them any a long time ago. Oh well, one day maybe... Remember, Terrie? That's how we met; you wrote me a note after I had an article in the Graphic.