The Accidental Author

The Accidental Author

Don't get me wrong. I'm not a published author...yet.

I became an author by accident. 

Writing annual procedure manuals for fifteen years would hardly qualify me for the job, no matter how well written. I guess it really started on Anna Maria Island in Florida where I was inspired to become a poet. As I watched the waves keep coming, coming, coming.

Years later I tagged along with a good friend to a fall writer's conference in Wisconsin. Now, she's a REAL writer. She is actually an award winning author. I guess you'd call her a humor essayist. She sits in her breezeway and writes about her life experiences, her sons, and meetings on the street with non English speaking strangers as she tries to help them.

At the writer's conference people would ask me what type of writing I do, "What's my genre?" Huh? We'll I know what a genre is. I'd say I'm not really a writer. But I have done a little bit of poetry. Then, I'd meekly add that I did keep a journal while I was deployed by the Red Cross after 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Sandy, and other disasters. Their eyebrows would rise as they'd ask "you were there?" Well, yes, I was.

I had a very busy full-time career in the financial aid profession. There truly is no slow time of year. When being called by the Red Cross, they want you to stay at the disaster location for three weeks. It's not worth the time and expense for them to send someone for a shorter period of time. Because it was so hard for me to take three weeks off of work I had to be selective with which disasters I'd respond to. Of course The Big Three were 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and Hurricane Sandy. If there is any time in financial aid that is less busy than others, it's the fall. The current students are already enrolled and the new financial aid season doesn't begin until after January 1st. Coincidental or not, I was able to respond to 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina in fall. By the time Hurricane Sandy arrived I was retired and could respond at any time.

Who couldn't help but respond. We were all stunned on 9/11. We watched in frustration at the slow arrival of assistance in New Orleans after Katrina. And we watched in amazement after Hurricane Sandy as the roller coaster disintegrated before our eyes and fires spread unchecked. Because the media showed nothing but these events for weeks, the drama tore at our hearts. We watched helpless as we sat in our homes unable to do anything but watch and maybe donate some money. 

I was fortunate. I was trained and ready to help. I could really do something. I didn't just have to watch. So I went. I took three weeks' vacation after each of these Big Three disasters to travel to where the events happened.

And then I kept a journal. I sent them home to tell the behind the scenes story. Not what you saw on the news. But, the journey of someone who delivered a glimmer of hope—one family at a time. As I sent these journals to people I know, some would say to me "you should write a book." You have an ability to tell a good story. I'd shrug and reply, "Maybe someday."

The journey of my, as yet, unpublished book possibly titled "A Gift Of Hope - Journals Of a Disaster Volunteer" will be shared in my blog as I progress with my writing.

Please join me as I traverse this unknown journey.

- Debbie