I Want To Write like My Local Columnist

How a paper distributed to 19,000 homes inspired me to keep writing

On a particularly warm and rainy evening in early March, when Atlanta was graced by an early summer storm, I stopped by the mailbox after my run like I always do. Yes, I run in the rain, and my roommates think I’m certifiably crazy. But I digress. Inside the mailbox was our regularly circulated Northside Neighbor paper. It’s a free suburban paper serving Sandy Springs, Vinings, Brookhaven, and Northside Atlanta neighborhoods. Delivered to roughly 19,000 homes weekly, it’s the definition of a local paper (total Atlanta population is 488,000).

After perusing articles about local murals, the Georgia Bulldogs national championship (eye roll), and local education initiatives; I came across a column titled “Do good while standing strong” written by Lynn Walker Gendusa. To be honest, I usually skim the paper, only looking for something to catch my eye before I dive in. But on this particular day, I decided to read it all. Maybe it was the Eagle’s album that I listened to on my run while feeling the rain pattering against my body or something in the air. But it’s more likely I was looking for something inspiring. I’ve been struggling to write like I thought I always could. Grasping for profound sentences to blow my reader's minds like a hamster on a wheel. Never feeling like I’m getting the complete picture across in the same way that the writers I’ve been enamored with always have.

Much like anything I feel that I’m not good at, I put it down in frustration. Waiting for the day when I will once again feel that I am worthy of the keyboard I am typing this Jerry Maguireesique mission statement on.

I’ve never read anything of Gendusa’s. Better yet, if you’d kidnapped me and asked me to name someone who wrote at the Northside Neighbor, you’d be taking care of me for quite a while. Gendusa’s article didn’t even catch my eye at first. I only began reading it because, as I said, on this particular day I decided to consume the entire paper.

She had had recently lost a dear friend, and her candor was encapsulated within the first sentence. Quoting her dad saying “The only problem with living long is watching others go away while I stand strong.”

I was touched by the loss of her friend. Despite never knowing her or the author, I persisted in my effort to find out what Gendusa had to say. And then like the heavy gavel of a judge declaring a court sentence, Gendusa changed my entire outlook on writing beginning with one sentence. “I believe our tenure on earth is a test to see if we can fulfill the purpose of why we are here,” she said. And like that the race was on.

I began to consume her article unlike any prior. As she delved into her theory of our purpose on earth, she generated another heavy stance.

Gendusa said “We wake every morning, never knowing if it will be our last day to accomplish those things we desire to do. When we procrastinate, waste our days and spend precious time doing little for others, we come to the end of the roading saying, “I should have” or “Why didn’t I do…”.

It’s a message that many before her have proclaimed. Maybe it’s youth or stupidity, but I’ve always acted like there’s always another day. If today I’m not feeling up to staring at my screen, trying to be the best I can be, well then there’s always another day. But the truth behind Genudsa’s article hit me, unlike any other message. There truly isn’t another day.

If I thought Gendusa was done landing punches on my soul with her message, well she wasn’t. To cap it off, she left me with a question to ask every day “What will you do well today while you are still standing strong?”

I may never be the writer I want to be. I may never have articles that grace the pages of phone and computer screens daily or even make the cut for the coveted Medium curation. But a columnist from a local paper distributed to 19,000 homes, made me realize that there’s no day like today to try.

So I ask you the same question Gendusa proposed to me. What will you do well today while you are still standing strong?

Lynn Walker Gendusa

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