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The first time someone told me I could write I was in 8th grade and my English teacher recommended me for Advanced English. She also assigned me to be the sports editor for the school newspaper for my 9th grade year. I was shocked. She told me that I had a gift for writing. Unfortunately, I didn't have a gift for sports, and I was stumped on how this was going to work out for me. But I have always enjoyed a challenge, so I started writing about school sporting events and pointing out odd things that other people didn't seem to notice. When in doubt about the mechanics of the sport, I wrote about the one common denominator that all sports have in common . . . popcorn. Wrestling stumped me, so I wrote about the fanatic fans in the stands. The articles started getting popular (and some rather odd looks from the jocks) and my teacher assigned me more columns. When I got to high school, I joined journalism and became the "Groups and Clubs" editor where I honed my skills to write about things I had no prior knowledge of. My article on ROTC didn't land me any journalism awards but I did get a boyfriend out of it. I like to say that in high school journalism, I discovered I didn't want to be a journalist because I would have to stick to the facts. That was way too restrictive for me. I knew that I loved creative writing and aspired to write like Erma Bombecksomeday. Over the years, I started an annual Christmas letter that would always get comments from relatives on how much they looked forward to it. Most of my writing fit into the "entertaining family" category until I became Iowa Medical Society Alliance President and I had to submit articles to the Iowa Medical Society and American Medical Association (when I was on the AMA Alliance Board). Since I have NO medical background, all that practice in high school writing about things I had no prior knowledge about paid off. It turns out that I can write a 250 word article on current medical issues without breaking a sweat. Why anyone would take my word for anything medical is beyond me. When Gene was offered a job at Virginia Gay and we moved to Benton County, I had a lot of time on my hands and started a blog about learning how to adapt to rural living. My dad loved the posts. This was a big moment in my life because my dad was not a big reader -- I never saw him read a book in my life. And it used to make him crazy that I always had my nose in a book. So for him to read my blog was impressive. And one day, he said, "You should write a book." That was when I first started thinking about writing a book. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I wrote a blog about all the funny ways I dealt with treatment. Writing during breast cancer treatment was therapeutic for me and it was the one thing I could control and bring normalcy to my life. Crazy thoughts would go through my head and I would think that if the doctor's could read my mind, they might think I was going nuts. When I was nearing the end of my treatment, my readers encouraged me to publish my blog, so I eventually did. I've been sharing some of the stories on Vinton Today to make people laugh and take their minds off being sheltered at home. I know my dad would have been proud of me for sharing those stories now. So for those of you playing the Vinton Today Opinion Pages Bingo, here's your free square - Unqualified!!

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Gretchen Kopecky April 25, 2020, 1:00 pm So enjoyed the article. Keep them coming. Grew up in Vinton so love to catch up on my hometown.
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