"Opportunity Named Harry" by J.P. McGillicuddy

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– mentoring paid forward

A good role model multiplies those efforts through the lives of those they inspire.

JP McGillicuddy lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. A former magazine editor, he has authored numerous published articles spanning sports, health care and government. He also created and wrote “The Mecklenburgers,” an award-winning local television program. His poetry received third-place award from Charlotte Writers Club in 2019 and appeared in Mooresville Arts “Beyond Poems and Paintings” exhibit in 2020. His essay, “The White Section,” appeared in the 2020 Personal Story Publishing Project That Southern Thing. He is a member of Charlotte Writers Club and NC Poetry Society.


Author’s Talk

Until I retired in 2016, I wrote stories on behalf of others -- bosses, clients, editors. I’m thankful for a career allowing me to write, but I always yearned to tell my own stories. When I began writing for myself, my initial challenge was learning to listen to my voice. My writing chops were trained from decades of storytelling from someone else’s perspective, such as the company or magazine for which I was writing. Initially, my goal was to write a book, mostly to prove to myself I could do it. I had plenty of ideas I’d stashed away as handwritten notes and in digital files. But I decided the best way to discover my point of view was to write about what I knew best. So, I spent the first year of my retirement writing stories about my life. This allowed my voice to emerge, while rediscovering and re-examining the experiences common to each of us – joy and sadness, triumphs and failures, celebrations and regrets. Writing about these events brought back all the emotions I felt when they happened, sensations I can more easily tap into now as part of my writing process.

J.P. McGillicuddy

J.P. McGillicuddy

Then something unexpected happened. While writing about a past romance, I recalled dabbling in poetry many years ago. Aside from what little I retained during a middle school English class, I was uninformed about poetry. But I remembered how good it felt to pour out my feelings onto the page, despite my crude poetic skills. So, I resurrected some poems written long ago and began writing new ones. Quickly recognizing my ignorance in this writing form, I joined the Charlotte Writers Club and the NC Poetry Society to tap into poetry workshops, contests and critique groups. What I’ve learned most from these experiences is how much I have to learn, and not just in poetry.

This is why I love everything about the Personal Story Publishing Project. It’s like having an editor provide me an assignment to tell my stories in my own way. There’s also a strict word count to focus and hone my writing, and the optional critique teaches me something new each time. Despite having enjoyed some success as a writer in my working career, I remain a student of writing and always will be.

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