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Family Values

My father, Frank H. J. Figge, was a cancer research scientist, and he used to tell me that “Nothing is ever completely true or completely false.” A useful mantra for a reporter. When he died, I was a 34-year-old stay-at-home mom with three children and an intense desire to tap his creative legacy. I learned by doing, as a stringer for a daily paper, and then specialized in dance.

After 10 years of freelancing as a dance writer, I got my dream job, working for Rich Rein at U.S. 1 Newspaper, Princeton’s business and entertainment journal, then a monthly, now weekly (www.princetoninfo.com). Covering business or technology, I discovered, was like covering dance. You present a personality, and you translate the technical terms into words that a layperson can understand. Whether writing about a choreographer, an entrepreneur, or a scientist — they are all “people” stories.

Two decades later I’m freelancing for U.S. 1, on a less stringent schedule. Freed from editing responsiblities, I am “out and about,” meeting business people and attending concerts. Virtually every day, someone I meet or something in the news reminds me of a person I’ve interviewed or an article I wrote, two or 20 years ago. I resisted blogging (what? put stuff up on the web that no one else has edited? do wordsmithing for free? make my reporter’s life public?) Why not just keep a journal?

Because journaling is private, and I’ve been putting words out for public consumption for so many years that it feels right to keep doing it. Perhaps my perspective will be useful — and provoke you to add yours. The comments page is open, and you don’t have to “join” or “sign up” though any identification you might provide would be most welcome. What did your father or mother tell you that affects how you do your work today?