Looking for a freelance writing project, I called the Board of Education in our county and talked to a supervisor. She was the Supervisor for Adult Education and spent most of her efforts on parent discussion groups. She was interested in developing a project that would help parents prepare their children for school. She had thought about it quite a bit and had a suggestion. "Write something," she proposed, "on what parents can do with their children on snow days."
"Okay," I replied. "I'll see what I can come up with." She was ill prepared for what I produced. I think she thought about inside games to keep the children from being bored.
I had raised three sons and they all loved snow days. They did not sit inside and play games. They went sledding, built snow men and snow houses, made snow angels in the snow, and played tag games in the snow. When they got so cold they had to come in, they brought snow with them. With this they made snow fizzies. If it was very cold so they had to stay in longer, they liked to make snow man cookies.
I designed a bulletin and named it "Bridgings" to illustrate its function to close the gap between home and school. I got one of my bridge playing friend's daughter to illustrate the title page.
The bulletin was an immediate success. The supervisor liked it and arranged for me to produce it on a monthly basis. I pulled out experiences I had raising children. The first year the topics were seasonal, relating to what was happening around holidays and in the natural world. The second year I shifted to mental health topics, using the experience I had when I was teaching mental health to identify the topics.
Fortunately I had the good sense to request a by-line. The supervisor granted the request, but had reason to regret it later on when the publication received more and more recognition. When it achieved international fame, she felt she had to do something about it.
She had always used the back page of the bulletin to promote her parent discussion groups. She now began to impact the content of the bulletins by what she put on the back page. It was not long until the back page began to take more responsibility (and recognition) for the production. She was insisting that I refer to the parents in the content of the bulletin itself. At that time, the by-line changed to "Deborah James, Editor"
I tried to work with her. I had written the bulletin for more than two years and I was running out of fresh material. I would have been happy to work with her parents to develop material. I could steer them away from book learning activities and focus on their own successful experiences with their children. She was not about to let me near her parents.
So I quit. I was busy working full time for a labor union and was happy to pull away. Since I no longer received the publication after that, I do not know what they did with it.
I enjoyed writing Bridgings. The process gave me confidence in my ability to write. It was as successful as it was because I wove my real life experiences into the format I developed, a quality I found useful in future writing tasks. I also learned that dealing with bureaucracy was a likely condition of most jobs in the business world.