If I were ever to write a memoir , which I never would, because there are so many more interesting things to write about, that’s what its title would be. It’s the one friends chose long ago when we played that “what would you call your autobiography?” parlor game (the one that comes after “who would play you in the movie of your life?” Answer: Cate Blanchett, please.)
My friends know me well. I do say that a lot, whenever I hear that click in my brain of a new idea juxtaposing with an old assumption and rolling around in a confection of unexplored possibility. I have always looked at my world as strings of stories. Some jump out and announce themselves, others shyly wait to be discovered. The best ones make the reader say one of two things — “I never thought of that,” or “that’s exactly what I thought, but didn’t realize anyone else did.”
How lucky am I that I’ve had such remarkable places to tell stories. Thirty years at the New York Times, with titles that varied from national correspondent (based in Houston), to medical reporter (back in NYC), to the New York Times Magazine, where my most cherished description was when an editor declared my beat was “the social conscience of our times.” She was nominating me for a great big prize that I didn’t win, but that compliment was its own kind of reward. Also at the Times I got to coin the phrase “the Opt-Out revolution,” and create the Life’s Work column and the Motherlode blog. (Yes, I got to title all of those, too…)
Next, the Huffington Post, where I reported and opined about life, work and family. A few people started calling me a parenting expert, which my two sons found utterly amusing. Then at Yahoo News, where I’m thrilled to be part of a new guard, writing long-form narrative original journalism and proving that people will seek out (lengthy!) quality online. My title there is chief national correspondent, and my territory is domestic social issues.
In and around all that I authored three books — “Life’s Work, Confessions of an Unbalanced Mom”, “First, Do No Harm” and “Show Me A Hero,” (which… drumroll and cymbals here please…was made into the Golden Globe winning HBO series by the same name) — and edited two anthologies. There was a radio show — “Life’s Work with Lisa Belkin”, on XM Radio (one day remind me to tell you the story of the so-awkward-it-was-funny way that I was fired from that) as well as a regular contributor to Public Radio’s The Takeaway and NBC’s Today Show. I graduated from Princeton University where they let me return recently as a visiting professor in the Humanities Council, teaching narrative non- fiction as an instrument of social change. Tis’ as much a joy sharing stories with students, I have learned, as with readers.