Archive for September 25, 2009

Bedside Blogging and Beyond

September 25, 2009

art

By Cathleen Hulbert

When I started blogging a few months ago it was because I had something to say about healthcare reform. I needed to blow off steam and I needed to tell it like it is from the front lines in the world of American healthcare.

I found that I loved the way it felt to blog, like I was stretching after a long nap. Newspaper reporting had been my first career. When I wrote for the Atlanta Journal Constitution years and years ago, I mostly reported what other people had to say. Opinion pieces were for grown-ups. I didn’t yet feel like one. 

Back in 1989, when I was wrapping up my newspaper career, I left my home in Roswell, GA and moved to New York City. I felt a strange calling to change vocations. I needed something that would pay even less than newspaper reporting and offer me more stress. I say this tongue-in-cheek. It was a true calling to realize that I wanted to become a social worker and that somehow I wanted to do boot camp in the poorest neighborhoods of Brooklyn. I enrolled at Columbia University’s top rated social work graduate program. I stopped all writing for a time, with the exception of that academic style of writing required to get a degree.

While working in healthcare as a clinical social worker, I started to see and feel things that I thought had to be stuffed, but which really needed to be written about. Working in an AIDS unit at the height of the crisis in the United States, when the diagnosis was an automatic death sentence, was shocking, numbing and yet somehow illuminating. I started to see the demise of human bodies from a front-row-seat perspective, and yet I also saw the power of the human spirit. The latter seemed to grow in strength as the body grew weaker. That was big-time, front-page news for my fellow seekers. But still, I  wasn’t writing.

Then I moved home to Georgia and started working with kids at a pediatric hospital: kids in car accidents, kids who nearly drowned in the backyard pool, kids with cancer and sickle cell disease, kids with brain and spinal cord injuries. Again I saw the magnificence of the soul and how it seemed to expand in a room as the little bodies sat dying, sick or broken in hospital beds.

But still, I wasn’t writing about it.

Then came the book — the book, the novel, the time-travel tale that would somehow come knocking on my head and say, “It’s time to put it all together. It’s time to talk about what you have seen and what you have learned. And guess what, girlfriend? You are going to put it all down in the form of a novel!” I didn’t even know that I had one in me, but apparently I did. It’s a good thing I opened that door when the knocking started.

The novel is called “The First Lamp — A Story of Cosmic Illumination.” I published independently earlier this year, a labor of love which I discussed in one of my first blogs. It’s been an amazing journey. The sequel is in progress.

Still, there are days when I have an opinion and I want to write about it right here, right now. That’s why I love blogging. And I love reading what fellow writers have to say. I can safely say that it has changed my life in ways I could not anticipate.

Today is an excellent day for this writer. 

I have my first article, a reprint of my blog, in an award-winning, online newspaper called Like the Dew. It’s a collection of news articles, reviews, commentary and more by free-lance journalists and fellow bloggers. And hot dog: My blog about publishing independently is situated just underneath a beautifully illustrated piece about sex and nudity. You can’t beat that kind of exposure!

Below is a link to this next wonderful chapter in my life as a born-again (in the literary sense) writer. Did I mention that it’s an excellent day?

http://likethedew.com/2009/09/25/the-courage-to-publish-independently/

cover photo

This is the photo that I fell in love with while looking fo a front cover design for my novel. It was graciously donated by photographer William Tan. Below is the finished product.

book cover

Cathleen Hulbert, LCSW, is a clinical social worker in the healthcare field and a free-lance journalist with a background in newspaper reporting. She also is the author of “The First Lamp — A Story of Cosmic Illumination,” a time-travel tale about love, forgiveness and redemption. She lives in Roswell, GA. For more information about the author and the book, go to www.cathleenhulbert.com.

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