Every day I pinch myself: I get paid to write.
I'm a columnist at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, Ohio. It's the largest newspaper in Ohio and the 16th largest in the country. It has a circulation of more than 300,000 and a readership of more than 1 million.
When people love my columns, they tuck them into wallets, press them into Bibles and stick them under refrigerator magnets next to their kids' A+ in science. They also email them all over the country to their aunts, uncles, kids, friends and co-workers, which inspired me to share my life lessons in books that are now in 20 countries.
When people hate my columns, they call and email by the hundreds. The hottest topics? Race, religion, abortion, gay marriage and anything to do with Cleveland's beloved and bumbling sports teams: the Browns, Indians and Cavaliers.
While I love to write the personal columns, the reported ones made me a finalist twice for the Pulitzer Prize. First in 2008, for a series of columns on urban violence. Then in 2009, for columns that changed the legal system in Ohio and for writing about my daughter's decision to have surgery to prevent getting cancer.
I won the National Headliner Award for those columns about my daughter. I also won the award back in 1998 when I wrote about battling breast cancer. All these years later, women newly diagnosed with cancer still ask for copies.
That's why I still love writing the newspaper column. Someone once said, "People read to know they are not alone." The column connects me to you and connects all of us to each other.
Material published by The Plain Dealer cannot be reprinted or used in any way without prior permission. Each request is handled on a case by case basis. To find out if you can use the material, please contact Dave Kordalski at email@example.com. He can grant permission to use material and answer any copyright questions.