Write Team: Appreciate the positive ‘why me’ moments

The dog got sick on the bedroom rug, your tween remembers a permission slip that is due today, the school bus is running late, and you have an early morning meeting at work. Everyone is finally out the door, and you’re driving down the street when you see the crossing lights flash and the rails drop down a block away. As you ease to a stop and see the slowly approaching train pull forward, you think, “Why me?”

It’s an understandable question. When things go wrong, we feel overwhelmed, as if the stars are aligned against us. There’s the tendency to throw ourselves a pity party: “I don’t deserve this. Why is this happening to me?”

But when life is going along beautifully and the kids are ready for school on time and nobody forgot anything, when you see the crossing lights flash and the rails drop down in the rear view mirror as you drive away, do you also think, “Why me?”

Can we recognize and appreciate the positive “Why me’s” in our lives?

Twenty years ago, The Daily Times put out a notice looking for local writers who would like to join the Opinion Page. It was a new venture, an experiment, to add 10 people who would each write two columns per month for six months.

I was interested as soon as I saw the ad. But I was equally nervous. Too many questions filled my mind until I decided to just try and write something and see what happened. The answers would come if I was accepted.

What to write? Something controversial? Local or worldwide? Doubt crept in. What did I have to say that anyone would ever possibly want to read? What would people care about? What did I care about?

That first submission was about my daughter moving into her own apartment. I shared the emotions her father and I felt about her leaving; our pride mixed with worry and hope; her excitement as we all looked forward to the future.

Along with nine other writers, I was accepted and the first Write Team was born.

So many local writers have shared their thoughts and skills on the opinion page in the past 20 years. Some became friends and shared writing ideas as well as personal lives. Being on the Write Team gave many the confidence to branch out. Publishing a book has become a dream come true for many Write Teamers.

Thank you isn’t big enough to express the proper gratitude to Lonny Cain who engineered the idea in the first place. His strong belief in the power of words was evident to all through both his encouragement of our efforts and his own writing skills.

We also learned from Craig Peterson, Mike Murphy, Stephanie Jaquins, Tammie Sloup and Derek Barichello through the years. When I’m on my laptop, I always remember, “Write tight,” and “When it comes to emotions, if you make them cry, you’ve done a good job.”

That first year, I cut out my columns and put them into a scrapbook. I figured this was my only chance to see my name in print so I better take advantage of it.

The project continued after that first round, with others joining. I reapplied after six months off and was grateful and excited to be accepted again.

I now have 20 scrapbooks of columns, one for every year I have returned to The Write Team. I’d like to take the best of them and put them into a book, but we shall see. I am appreciative of the feedback from readers through the years; your kind words gave me confidence to expand into other writing venues.

When I look at the history of this project, I ask “Why me?” I am not a professional writer. I’m just someone who has a desire to put down words, hoping that a story will connect with someone. Writers trust people will understand, laugh, and yes, cry together. Words and stories can help us travel through the ups and downs of life.

Being part of The Write Team is a privilege I haven’t taken lightly. Thank you to The Times, their staff members, the other columnists, my family and friends, and all the readers through the years. This experience has changed my life for the better.

Thank you for 20 wonderful years of “Why me?”

• Karen Roth is a semiretired librarian/educator living in Ottawa. She can be reached at dbarichello@shawmedia.com.