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Andrea's column: Hello, new readers

When my husband came in with the mail one day last week, he didn't greet me with a, "How was your day, Sweetie?" or even a, "Hi, I'm home." Instead, the first words out of his mouth were, "Wow! You should see your newspaper. It's really slick."

It is indeed, I thought, as he set it in front of me. There was a full-color photo smack dab in the middle of the front page and a sidebar with lots of color, too. It made me proud to be part of the Farmington-Rosemount Independent Town Pages team.

It was nearly 11 years ago I told my newly-formed writing group about my goal to write a column for the local newspaper. A year later, after I read a piece to them about my mother and her Memorial Day trips to the cemetery, they told me it was time to contact the editor because the holiday was approaching.

That call was harder to make than any in my nearly 30 years of selling cars and trucks. Hearing a potential customer tell me he didn't want to buy the car we had test driven paled in comparison to the prospect of a publishing professional telling me my writing wasn't up to snuff.

What happened, though, is that he liked my personal essay and after reading more of my work, he asked if I would be interested in writing a column. I almost fainted. When he said he couldn't pay me much, I was shocked. "You're going to pay me?" I asked. (Trust me: Those words have come back to haunt me.)

When I was a freshman at the University of Minnesota in 1965, I received an A in my creative writing course. The instructor handed my final paper back and said he didn't think I would write the great American novel but I should think about penning short stories.

Over 30 years later, I took a writing class at Normandale College. Two more followed. And when my every-Wednesday lunch buddy moved out of state, I filled the hole her absence left with a Wednesday class at the Loft Literary Center. That resulted in a weekly writing group with six other women; the same ones who often reminded me of my goal to write a column.

The Memorial Day piece I wrote about my mother ended up being my second column for the Rosemount Town Pages. The first, published a week earlier, was an introduction. I told readers about my U of M writing class and those that followed.

I told them about my father, a journalism major who had been offered a job after college with a paper in North Dakota. That when Dad arrived at his destination to start his career, he learned the building that housed the paper had burned to the ground and the publication was kaput. Dad returned to Saint Paul and went into the insurance business.

I ended the piece with, "This one's for you, Dad."

And this one's for you, Farmington readers. I hope you find something in my writing that makes you laugh or occasionally shed a tear. I hope you, too, look for my column. If we've been thinking the same thing or even if we're on opposite sides of an issue, let me know. But if you think my writing "isn't up to snuff," please tell me gently. Those are still the words I dread hearing.