I remember the first time I considered the idea of writing for the Ledger-Enquirer.
I was at a dinner party to ring in 2014.
A woman I had just met asked, "What do you do?"
I answered, "I'm a writer."
"What do you write?" she asked.
I told her I was a playwright. She gave me that quizzical, awestruck look that I get a lot, like she forgot that plays even existed and certainly never considered people were still out there writing them. She asked if I'd ever thought about writing for the newspaper. I told her I had no formal training in journalism. She said that was a stupid reason not to try.
Turns out she was absolutely right.
A few months later, I was given the opportunity to write this column, and now it's been nearly a year. It's taught me a lot about my community, myself and the art of writing.
First off: It's changed the way I engage the community. Since talking with you here, I've stopped communicating on Facebook.
Do you remember my neurosis about social media?
I'm so glad that's over. Since leaving Facebook in early fall, I have felt way better about my public voice and have thought way less about what's trending or who ate what for dinner.
The time I spend talking with friends and neighbors in the community is direct and in person. It's more focused and precious. And the content of those conversations are far more substantial than they used to be.
Another realization since writing this column: Some weeks, it is the only piece of creative writing I produce. That's not ideal, considering I've got plays I'd like to write. But it's a true gift.
I know that at the very least, I have a weekly outlet to express myself and engage with others using the written word. It is cheaper than a therapist and pays better than writing in a diary.
One of the biggest challenges: feeling like my week is much too boring to write about. Sometimes the most interesting part of my week is watching a great movie or going to the park with my husband and daughter. Lame, huh?
But it's in those moments that I think about my readers and their feedback. Some of the columns I thought were fascinating have fallen flat with my readers. But the columns that I considered boring slices of my regular, old life are the ones people still bring up in conversation.
This reminds me that average isn't bad. Normal isn't boring. Life is familiar, and the familiar brings comfort to us.
So thanks for allowing me to share my thoughts with you -- the normal ones and the strange and different ones. And thank you for sharing your thoughts with me! You excite and inspire me. I look forward to many more Sundays together. Have a great week.
Natalia Naman Temesgen is an independent correspondent. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter@cafeaulazy.