I live in Duluth Minnesota, near the big lake. Cresting the hill on Piedmont, I am never disappointed by St. Louis Bay, 800 feet below. F16’s thunder skyward from the airbase like clockwork in the morning. Sunsets cap the day with critters in the side yard.
I have walked a varied path, born and raised a Roman Catholic, a Christian Brother for four and half years at St. Mary’s University in Winona, Minnesota, a teacher/counselor and Licensed Psychologist.
As a psychologist, I started and managed a sexual abuse treatment program. I assessed and treated perpetrators and young victims of both sexual and physical abuse. My life work was devoted to working with kids.
I was an English teacher at the high school level and a guidance counselor for many years in a traditional and alternative school setting. Kids are fascinating. I wish I had another life to devote to working with very young children.
I have always loved reading, but creative writing was not part of my formal education. I am a freelance columnist for the Duluth News Tribune, with bi-monthly columns https://www.duluthnewstribune.com/ and also have an occasional presence in the Bemidji Pioneer. In the early 90’s, I was a commentator for KCRB, Minnesota Public Radio in Bemidji, Minnesota.
I write because I need to. I have a lot of interests outside of writing, but I find when I park myself in front of a keyboard and start the process, it draws out elements of my personality that tend toward self-destructive obsessiveness; thinking about worthless stuff. Writing is a part of a recipe for a balanced life.
Deemed “serious” at an early age, I was identified as “sensitive.” That’s not bad, but like most things, has the heft of a two-edged sword. There are times when the blade swings away and carves out places that most people have a hard time relating to, a spot where experience, intuition and self-discipline converge and create something unique that touches another.
But the arc of that steel can also sweep in the opposite direction. Then when it strikes the arms bearer, it not only wounds, but if it gets stuck halfway through a swipe, infects and sends the swordsman toward dark places. Murky locales have value, but staying there, rubbing the sore spot or worrying a laceration’s edge, becomes the end point, with little way out. The behavior leads nowhere.
Writers are conduits, and the best thing they can do is open a gate and get out of the way of what flows through. The writer is responsible for delivering a message that comes down the pipeline and better have the technical tools to write it clearly, or it will end up useless sludge flooding the world with drivel.
I sometimes wonder where ideas and new perceptions come from. What wellspring pushes them to the surface for examination? If I take a spiritual or religious perspective, I think all this stuff sits out there, spinning in the universe and occasionally coalesces becoming conscious through lived experience.
Writing is also a political act. It involves risk and pushing boundaries both personal and intellectual. The private dimension has to do with revealing of one’s inner space. Breakthroughs in art of any kind involve a gamble. The writer, of necessity, lives in his/her head. Sometimes that space is populated by thoughts and feelings that (in socially adept people) are censored. Because you think or feel something doesn’t mean you have to say it! The trick is in learning to evaluate the risk/benefit of giving voice. Will I advance a unique vision by what I create, or will I damage others and commit interpersonal Hari Kari?
Finding material to write about is not difficult for me. Reading complements writing and acts as nourishment for the seeds that wander around in my head. Themes are readily available or emerge as I write. An active imagination or thought process ties itself to a concept or idea and things happen. Even taking a few moments to stare out a window can provide notions to explore, or opening a newspaper and scanning headlines can stimulate thought that emerges into consciousness.
I am above all else amazed and fascinated. I have a lot of stories to tell. Writing keeps me sane, and I hope, those around me too who will be grateful for all kinds of reasons.
I blog when time allows, at http://www.douglewandowski.com/.
Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.