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Kennedy Smith 18 March 2008

Kennedy Smith

Writer, Journalist, News Junkie, Scrabble Addict

Kennedy Smith was born in a small, two-story house on 42nd cheap cialis 20mg and Yamhill 30 years ago, sealing her fate as a Portlander. There was a blip in the system somewhere along the way, and she (with her father, mother and two brothers) ended up living in Redding, California, where she was raised from the age of six.

She got her first taste of journalism at the age of 17, when she became an intern at the Record-Searchlight, Redding’s daily paper. She was soon writing obits, news briefs and wedding announcements that so impressed her superiors, she was once selected as “Employee of the Month.”

She continued writing for the paper until moving slightly south to attend Chico State, where she eventually got her degree in English Literature, with a minor in Linguistics. During this time, she worked as an editorial assistant for Chico’s news daily. She also freelanced for an alternative weekly, where she was paid in beer. Living in Chico gave Kennedy an appreciation for warm summer nights, vast open spaces, swimming holes and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

After graduation, she stuck around to work as the assistant editor for a national trade magazine. However, by 2004, she felt it was time to come home again. By this time, the glitch in the system had readjusted itself, and her entire immediate family was back in the Pacific Northwest.

That summer, she found a nice little spot on East Burnside Street, where she worked as a freelancer, newspaper reporter and PR maven. She now lives in Northeast Portland and works as the manager of publicity for a local nonprofit organization. In her free time, she writes poetry and short fiction.

Kennedy is the sister of two brothers, aunt of two nephews and a niece, and roommate of a PSU student whom she met in London, drank with in Chico and eventually dragged to Portland. She has countless uncles, aunts and cousins, almost all of whom live in Portland. It has ceased to surprise her friends when she points to somebody on the street and says, “I’m related to him.”

What are you up to?

I’d say just short of five feet, six inches, but who’s counting?

Right now I’m focusing my attention on gaining some traction with creative fiction, which I’d eventually like to turn into a full-time gig. I haven’t quite figured out how to do that yet, so in the meantime I write fiction on the side and make a living as the publicity manager for a nonprofit organization for Portland-area lawyers. When I find time, I freelance for various magazines. In the last few weeks, I’ve enjoyed taking a class at The Attic writers’ workshop, which I highly recommend to anyone interested in tapping into their creative side.

I usually come up with great story ideas in the middle of the night, which I tend to forget by morning. But, when they stick, I write them down and see where they go.

What are you into?

Like the bio says, I’m a Scrabble fanatic. I own two Scrabble boards and one Travel Scrabble, which I keep scattered throughout the city. I have made special note of bars and coffee shops that house their own boards, and I feel a special kinship with strangers who play in public places. My latest triumph was a 72-point word: “talkers,” with the K on a triple-letter score, using two blanks and all seven letters.  

I’m also into true crime stories. I’m often found reading tales of murder, deception, greed and gore. A Forensic Files marathon will render me out of commission for entire weekends at a time. I’m addicted to the macabre. This freaks some people out, but like my mom says, as long as I’m not taking notes during the show, she’s not too worried.

My other likes include mint chocolate chip ice cream, putting my hand in my dog’s mouth when she yawns, Pinot Noir, “Likes” lists, and bad teenage dance-off movies (e.g., Save the Last Dance, How She Move and Bring it On), which I find to be the most terrifying subgenre of modern film.

What do you like most about Portland?

The question itself is difficult, as I find so many things to like about Portland that I cannot narrow it down to one.

I like the fact that I’m about 30 percent likely to run into somebody I’m related to at any given moment. I like watching the clouds dissipate after a too-long winter. I like that people smile and say hello when you’re walking down the street. I like that so many Portland bars have gone non-smoking even though it’s not (yet) required by law. I like that I always knew I’d live here again, and now I do.

So, writing is where the big money is, right?

Oh lord no. I am a writer because I cannot not be a writer, even when double-negatives are involved. It’s in my blood. Although making a living as a writer is tough, not being a writer would be no way to live.

So, to those curious about how to make money as a writer, I suggest diving in head first. Take a job as an editorial assistant at a newspaper. Submit articles to dailies, weeklies and monthlies. Pick a word and write a story around it, then send it to publishers and see what they think.

The most difficult part of being a writer is taking your own advice.

Why did it take you till last year to finally get a cell phone, and can I have your number?

Sometimes resistance is futile to the outside world but means everything to you. Perhaps not getting a cell phone was my way of rebelling against The Man, or some form of him. I saw people running around on their cell phones completely unaware of their surroundings and I thought it was sad. Maybe I was holding out in hopes that phone booths wouldn’t go completely the way of audio cassettes or light brown M&Ms. But I finally relented, and all my friends heartily welcomed me to the magical new world of mobile conversation. As for the latter question, I am really flattered, really. But no, you can’t have my number.


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