About me

Photo credit: Paige Miller Photography

Photo credit: Paige Miller Photography

When I was little I wanted to be an actress so I could act out the stories my mother read to me, as well as the ones she wrote. Later, but not too much later, I also wanted to be an artist so I could illustrate them. Actress and artist seemed compatible.

Then despite having given the application short shrift, I was accepted at Princeton and, with a bit of prodding, figured I should go. There were artists and actresses with Princeton degrees, too, I reasoned, even if there weren’t as many of those as there were lawyers and doctors and bankers, none of which I aspired to be. In the spring of my freshman year I met Emmet Gowin, who would become my mentor for the next three years, and I abandoned both acting and painting (mostly) for photography.

After college, for a couple of years, I taught kids how to tell stories with photographs and how to make cyanotypes and use pinhole cameras, which was all good fun but did not pay enough to cover my Boston residence, even with a side business catering dinner parties.

A friend convinced me that if I wanted to tell visual stories and not be homeless then I should go into marketing, because marketing was where the action was, not to mention the money. Working in marketing led to writing, and for more than 20 years I’ve ghost-written speeches for mayors, earnings call scripts for CEOs, pleas for money and pleas for blood donors, along with memos about mergers, downsizing, and company policies like turning off lights in the bathrooms.

The people for whom I wrote often commented that my writing allowed them to see clear images in their heads, and when they said this I was quick to tell them I was really a photographer who was just writing in order to pay the rent.

One day in 2012, on a pure lark, I started this blog as a place to put some things I wanted to try. With encouragement from a handful of friends and then a handful more, I kept going.

By day I’m lucky to serve as executive director at the Exchange Club Family Center (www.exchangeclub.net). By day, and by night, I’m even luckier to have a husband, two children, three dogs, and a cat, all willing to ignore me and to be ignored long enough to let me keep writing and making art, so I won’t get lost.

At least that’s the story for now. Come back tomorrow, and I might have written a different one.

All words and images © Jennifer Balink, 2017

 

21 Comments

  1. napperscompanion

    Lovely writing. Well-deserved Freshly Pressed, but that aside, I really do appreciate your blog. Thanks and peace, John

  2. I have nominated you for the Word Press Family Award. Stop by and check it out.

  3. Hi jennifer I injoyed reading about you! you must be a very happy person. Joe

  4. Michelle

    just read one of your pieces and loved your writing style ❤

  5. Jennifer my friend Thank you for the reply.I must tell you that I have gone through some tough times with my heart and new hip. I had to start loving myself and start smiling and be happy and not feeling sorry for myself. And I love the Lord he gives me the strength to go on Thank You for reading my note..Joe

  6. Hello from a fellow Memphis believer! Love your blog and am so glad to find you.

  7. There you go. I should have guessed it. The whole thing feels vaguely familiar, except my 25th was in 2008, my Visual Art BA was in Painting/Printmaking, Go, Bulldogs, and our class notes person has threatened to put my tiny home-sewn little blog in our alumni magazine because I’ve done little else worth reporting, which is simultaneously horrifying and funny.

  8. Great works of writing..

  9. Rick in Deanburg

    Jennifer, one of the joys in my life has been having you for a friend. Although we don’t get to visit or talk like the Cylix days, I treasure knowing that you and Bernard and the young ones are out there, living, loving, sharing and enriching the world.

  10. Just found you on Freshly Pressed. Following!

  11. Seems like I’m in the same boat jennifer….can’t figure out what to pursue. I’m like into everything n still searching! Glad found ur blog ☺

  12. Hi Jennifer. I just nominated you for a creative blogger award. I reckoned that I should nominate someone who is as busy as possible. 🙂 You’re not alone. See post number one today (3 June) on Storyteller for the details.

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