Reaching Out Through The Written Word

Reaching Out Through The Written Word
By Natalie Goodale
Staff writer, The Bedford Minuteman

Words, style, grammar and language are important, but they don’t seem quite as significant as impact to Bedford writer Mindy Pollack. She wants to make a difference.

Pollack has had some bumps in her life, and she knows there are so many others out there who have driven over those same bumps. Through her writing, she empathizes with readers by sharing her own experiences, and in turn, she helps them.

So far, Pollack published two essays in “Chicken Soup for the Soul,” and she is grateful that she can reach people with her words.

“It’s very rewarding to have my work in a book that can really affect other people,” she said. “By peeking into my life, almost like a voyeur, people can get a better understanding of the issues in their own lives.”

When she began working on her first serious novel, she received a taste of her own medicine. She came upon something in her story that gave her a realization, just as readers would soon be impacted by her pieces in “Chicken Soup for the Soul.”

“In my novel, the character who worked in public relations got angry at her work. She said, `I’m tired of promoting other people’s identity. I want to promote my own!'” Pollack said. “I realized that was me – I didn’t want to be writing anymore for other people. I wanted to focus on the kind of writing inside me, not the kind you get paid for at a regular job.”

Pollack phased herself out of public relations and now considers herself a freelance and creative writer. One of her first creative pieces she did was a humorous essay on turning 40. Eventually she got herself a column in The Bedford Minuteman called “Personally Speaking.” Then came the essays in “Chicken Soup for the Soul.”
Pollack remembers when she was eight years old and drafted a few chapters of a novel she wanted to write. Now, the signs seem so clear – she was destined to write. After receiving a bachelor of arts degree in magazine journalism, she realized it is a difficult field to break into.

She found a job as a news writer in a public relations office, and stayed with public relations for more than 20 years, earning her master’s degree in public relations. She even owned her own public relations firm for eight years. But she would always try to write creatively on the side.

“I tried to get things published through the years,” she said. “Articles for newspapers, humorous articles.”

“When my daughter was only six months old, my husband left,” Pollack said. “My piece in ‘Chicken Soup for the Unsinkable Soul’ was about that. I wrote to show people you could recover from such a trauma. Three women contacted me after reading the piece and said it gave them hope. They said it helped them move on in their lives, and they are forever grateful.”

Pollack said when you can write something that changes or impacts people’s lives for the better, it is a wonderful feeling.

Currently, she is searching for an agent to promote her 230-page memoir she recently finished. The memoir originally focused on another traumatic event for her – a breast biopsy.

“What the book became was an extension of my column – a series of humorous and intense stories about what happened in my life while I was waiting to find out if I had cancer or not,” she said. Finally, after another biopsy and more waiting, Pollack found out she did not have cancer. But in the meantime, she learned to look at life differently.

“The process of going through it all leaves you wondering – is my life where I want it to be? Don’t wait until you think you have cancer to make some changes you want to make,” she said. “Live with humor and find a way to get through it and everything will be OK.”

Now Pollack writes several pieces a year for the Home section of The Boston Globe; her articles are titled “At Home With…”

“I feel really grateful that this job allows me to meet some wonderful people who I would never otherwise be able to meet,” she said. Pollack has interviewed many people in their homes, including Nancy Kerrigan, Alan Dershowitz, and Arthur Golden. Soon she will be doing a piece on Travis Roy, the Boston University hockey player who got injured in his first hockey game at the school.

Pollack wants to finish that serious novel she started to work on a few years ago; she said she left her main character in the middle of a nervous breakdown in Maine. She writes at home with the company of her two cocker spaniels, Gilligan and Skipper. She lives with her husband and two daughters.

“When you write fiction, the characters seem to take you places you don’t even know they are going,” she said. “It sounds spooky, and it is – you’re having an experience outside yourself.”

Pollack, who is also one of the co-founders of the Bedford Center for the Arts, describes herself as having both an introspective side and a humorous side, and she said her writing is very personal. “My writing hits a nerve in people if I get it right, and that, for me, is what writing is all about.”

This article appeared in The Bedford Minuteman in August, 2003.