Creative Careers : Pat Conway Interview
Creative Careers in the Arts Interviews
Poet and Photographer Pat Conway
By Molly Anderson-Childers
Greetings! This month, I will be interviewing the fabulously talented poet, photographer and librarian Pat Conway. This busy lady loves the outdoors, and has been a bird-watcher for most of her life. She is also an experienced bee-keeper.
By a strange coincidence, we used to be neighbors, and her daughter Ellie is one of my oldest and dearest friends. I had lost touch with the family, but we were reunited when Ellie found one of my articles on the Creativity Portal site. Even as a girl, I dreamt of being a writer little did I know, there was a poet living right next door! Pat, thanks for taking the time to chat with me!
Q: What was your first job as a young woman?
A: My first paying job, I remember well. I was hired as an x-ray technician assistant at a local hospital. I liked the job. I loaded x-ray cassettes and developed x-rays in a dark room. It took some getting used to working in the dark, but in a few days I adjusted to it. My boss was a stern woman, but we got along well.
Q: Can you tell our readers a little bit about our shared past on Cornell Street, and the way we re-connected?
A: We moved to Colorado Springs in 1987. We were a military family stationed at Fort Carson. My children were about eleven and five. We moved next door to the Anderson family. Their children were about the same age as mine. There were two boys, Noah and Eli. Noah was my son's age. Eli was the oldest boy and Molly was the same age as my daughter, Ellie. Molly and Ellie became inseparable and played together a lot.
My daughter e-mailed me several months ago to tell me that she had somehow found you on the internet. I e-mailed you and got a quick reply. It was like walking back in time remembering. One of those great happy moments in life!
Q: What do you remember most clearly about me as a girl?
A: I remember you as being very serious and studious, but you had a wonderful sense of humor when it came out. You were always reading and I remember that you said you wanted to be a writer someday.
Q: What is the most rewarding aspect of your career?
A: I think the most rewarding thing about being a librarian is that every day I have the opportunity to help people find answers to their questions; whether it be helping them find a book they read when they were a child or helping them with research papers, genealogy, or answers to medical questions. My reward in finding a treasured childhood book for patrons is seeing the smile on their face and the nostalgia in their eyes. Especially since all I have to go on is that they remember the book was about a duck and it had a white cover with red letters!
Q: What is the most challenging aspect of working in this field?
A: The most challenging aspect of working in this field is public relations. There are many different kinds of people and in my work, I have to tactfully deal with everyone.
Q: How do you balance your work as a librarian with your creative writing and photography? Can you tell our readers how you broke into the world of writing and art?
A: I haven't given up a regular job. I write because writing is in my blood. It is part of who I am, and incorporates well with the job I've had for the past seventeen years.
My husband died of cancer in Colorado Springs in 1990. After his death, my children and I returned to Pennsylvania, my childhood home. It took me two years to return to the work force.
When I was ready, I entered a class called New Choices, which helped me get my confidence back to re-enter the workforce. I took several correspondence courses to brush up on my skills. I also took a Civil Service test at that time to become a Park Ranger but that didn't pan out. I had two interviews but they wanted me to take a firearms course that required me to spend time away from my children and I didn't want to do that.
I heard that there was a position open at the public library where I live and applied for it. I didn't get the job then, but I got it some months later when the person they hired left unexpectedly. I felt like it was the right place for me, since books and writing were always my passion.
I met another writer there who encouraged me to attend a writer's workshop in Mercer. I went with her that year, and have been going to it ever since. It is now a writer's conference. My poetry has won awards at this conference over the past fifteen years, and I've gained a wealth of information from attending the conferences.
Several years after I attended the Mercer Conference, I started a poetry contest at our library. I thought, "I can do that." It has encouraged our local poets to come out of the closet and get their work out there. This will be our thirteenth year coming up. It's been a great success. Some of our winners have had their poems published, which makes me happy.