Shelley Widhalm’s intrigue for writing started with reading. At first, she wanted the stories, but as she read, she slowed down for some of the sentences. She liked how they felt on her tongue and the pictures that surfaced, taking her other places.
In elementary school, Shelley wrote short poems about grand subjects from love to nature and short stories about children her own age. She found encouragement from her fourth and sixth-grade teachers, who mixed academics with writing assignments, including one that she remembers in particular, a children’s book with hand-drawn illustrations that her teacher had laminated when the students finished their work. She still has that book, called “Nosy Nelly.”
Shelley decided during the summer after sixth grade that she wanted to be a writer. She spent those three months writing her first book, working on it almost every day. She called her creation “Me Lisa,” a story of a young girl facing her parents’ divorce.
As she worked, Shelley adored the process of putting her imaginings into ink. Over the years, she wrote hundreds of poems and dozens of stories. She compiled some of the stories into a collection called “The Bar Stories Inn.” She wrote two books that are ready for publication and now is working on her third, “One April Day.”
The first, “Café Nights,” describes an uncanny friendship between a twenty-something waitress and an older man who help each other work through their drinking problems. The second is a memoir, “Michele’s Pearl,” about the struggles, both academically and socially, of overcoming a learning disability. “One April Day” is a semi-autobiographical account of making sense of a corporate layoff.
After earning a Bachelor and a Master of Arts degree in English, Shelley worked in journalism for four years. She soon found the Great American-novel dream to be too appealing, she said. She took nearly one year off and waited tables part-time, gathering experience to write about her waitress character in “Café Nights.”
That same year, Shelley realized she missed journalism and took a reporter’s position at a weekly newspaper in the metro Washington, D.C. area. While there, she wrote her second novel, “Michele’s Pearl.”
Shelley’s work in journalism includes four years at “The Washington Times,” in Washington, D.C., and most recently at a daily newspaper in Northern Colorado, where she has been since.
Shelley writes to live out her passion for words and for writing and creating. It’s a chance to share her experiences, which help her assemble an explanation of the why of living.