By Amanda Rodeheffer-Olson
So anyway, I’m sure you’ve seen the posts by Fourth & Sycamore editor David Nilsen announcing his exit from our literary journal. First and foremost, I would just like to assure all of you that I have no plans to make any drastic changes to Fourth & Sycamore. It will be business as usual for our avid readers and those wishing to contribute to our site. I have a great respect for what David has created here, and will do my best to uphold his high standards when selecting content for this journal. I feel honored that David has entrusted me to keep Fourth & Sycamore going following his departure. Filling his shoes will be a challenging task, but one I’m excited to take on.
Now, without further ado, I’ll introduce myself.
Professionally, I am the Young Adult Specialist at the Greenville Public Library. I took this position back in October and am working to build a strong after school program for local teens. Working for a library has always been a dream of mine, so when I was offered the position, I jumped on it.
Even though I work at the library now, my background is in editing and writing. I graduated from Indiana University East in 2006 with a Bachelor’s degree in English. During my senior year at IU East, I was the co-editor of the student-run newspaper, The Pioneer Press. The publication itself wasn’t anything to brag about, but my co-editor Erni Bufford and I did manage to turn the paper around during our tenure and significantly increased readership.
While in college, I took a number of writing courses, most of them focused on creative writing. To this day, I am one credit hour shy of having an official minor in Creative Writing. It bothers me a little, knowing I’m that close, but not enough to shell out the money for one more class.
As a side note, one of the most exciting events of my college career was a field trip to Iowa City to see the original scroll manuscript of On the Road by Jack Kerouac. And for all of you Kerouac fans out there, yes, it was amazing!
Less than a month after graduation, I was hired as a Staff Writer and Evening News Editor at The Daily Advocate, the only daily newspaper in Darke County, Ohio. I eventually transitioned into the pagination role and began laying out the paper in addition to my editing duties.
After only a short time at the Advocate, I earned an Ohio Associated Press award for Best Sports Columnist with the first sports column I’d ever written. However, shortly thereafter I gave up most of my writing duties and focused solely on pagination. By that point, I’d realized while I loved writing, I wasn’t enjoying writing under the strict journalism guidelines. But alas, my professional writing days weren’t over yet.
In 2009, I went back to writing full-time as a Sports Writer for the same publication. I thought my passion for sports would be enough to keep me interested in being a journalist, but that wasn’t the case. Instead it tainted my love of sports and writing to the point that I had to get away in any way I could. So after only a year in that position, I went back to the job that got me through college: McDonald’s.
Yes, I know it may seem stupid for someone with my educational background to work somewhere as menial as a fast food restaurant, but honestly, it worked for me. It allowed me the flexibility to spend time with my growing family, and it allowed me to slowly fall in love with writing again. I finally left Mickey D’s last November.
In addition to working at the library, I’ve spent the last four years as an editor of County News Online, a non-profit news website focused on helping the youth of Darke County achieve their dreams. (Warning: Shameless self-promotion coming!) Our proceeds benefit the Empowering Darke County Youth program, so check us out if you’d like to donate!
After working at the newspaper, my desire to write anything had tanked. I didn’t want anything to do with writing anymore, which was sad because I had started writing a novel in college and no longer desired to finish it. (The actual novel-writing process began back in high school for me, but the original attempt was only half-completed and sooo bad I opted to just start over.)
I finally completed said novel, Floored, in January of 2014, after working on it for more years than I care to admit. I’ve never attempted to have it published and it’s only ever been read in its entirety by one other person: my sister, Brittany, who also has a Bachelor’s degree in English. As an editor myself, I can’t stand the thought of my work not being perfect. So I entrusted it to her.
I am currently working on my novel’s sequel, which is titled, Wrecked. And I’ve honestly made more progress on it in the last two weeks than I have in the years since completing its predecessor.
Call me crazy, but I’ve never wanted for my work to get published. Aside from my newspaper days, I’ve only ever had one piece of my writing published: a poem entitled Finding Jack that I wrote in college. It was published in Tributaries: The IU East Journal of Student Writing. Maybe I’ll share it with you here on the site someday.
I honestly love all things writing. Fiction, non-fiction, poetry. I even took a course in college on creative non-fiction and loved that, too. I tend to write in much the same way that I talk, so reading my writing is just like having a conversation with me. Or so I’ve been told… can’t say that I’ve ever had a conversation with myself. Based on this intro, you may find my writing to be lacking in the literary sense, but don’t fret. I take writing seriously, especially when composing something that calls for a certain decorum.
Despite my passion for prose, don’t expect to see a ton of my stuff on this site. When I write, I write for me. Call me stupid, call me selfish, but I don’t feel the need to share what I write. I’m proud of what I create, but I don’t need validation from others to tell me whether my writing is good or not. I like it, and that’s all that matters to me. I’ve always preferred to use my expertise to help others perfect and share their writing. Guess that makes me a good fit for Fourth & Sycamore.
On a more personal note, I married the man of my dreams, my husband Aaron, in 2010, and a year later we had our first (and likely only!) child: our rambunctious little Levi Gideon. We live here in Greenville, but spent the first few years of our life together living in Ansonia, Ohio, where I was born and raised. We have one dog named Jasper, two rabbits, and four fish. I love reading, and writing (obviously!) and covering up with numerous blankets while doing both. And I am obsessed with all things paranormal and was actually a paranormal investigator for a year or two.
I’m also a photography nut, so don’t be surprised if you see my photos on here more than my writing. The photo with this post is one I took of my sister a few years back… not my best, but definitely one of my favorites.
So that’s me in a nutshell.
I can’t wait to get to know all of you and I look forward to reading your writing! Help me make David proud and keep Fourth & Sycamore going strong for years to come!