By Kim Harding Newton
Wendy Nilsen Pollitzer hasn’t always been a writer, but she has always been a cheerleader — for her teams, for her friends and family and for her community. Since she was a little girl, she’s looked at the positive in people and in circumstances.
When she was young, her mother, Shirley Nilsen, gave her some advice that she has carried with her for a lifetime. She said, “Always appreciate what the person in front of you is saying. You will grow by listening to their story.”
Wendy took those words to heart and developed a personality that parallels her career. Her endearing asset, professionally as a writer and personally, is her ability to understand people, all people, no matter the degree of diversity. She can easily blend carefree conversation with sensitivity and depth, while finding similarities between the person with whom she’s speaking and her own experiences.
When she started working for The Island News in 2010 as editor, she gained the attention of readers by writing articles about what mattered most to the Beaufort community. She wrote and compiled stories about all the good, avoiding the negative, and the response was tremendous.
She had already published two books in Arcadia Publishing’s “Images of America” series about Isle of Palms and Port Royal. She was working at Hunting Island State Park as a naturalist when she decided that she missed writing, and moreover, realized she really enjoyed packaging words and images together to tell the story of a community.
At The Island News, Wendy was a cheerleader for Beaufort and wrote more than 100 articles about people and places North of the Broad.
About a year and a half ago, she decided she wanted to write and work on another book. So, she started brainstorming ideas.
Wendy is a coastal girl, born and raised in Mt. Pleasant, SC, and a resident of Beaufort since 1999. Since her parents are from Anderson and Barnwell counties, she was also bred to be a “Southern” lady, learning from an early age to be respectful of her environment, her elders and her community. She was raised as most children are in the South — to be polite and to be proud.
She loves everything about growing up Southern and living life to its fullest. But Wendy said one day she found herself wondering, “What is it about the South?”
She pondered the question for a while. Is it the climate? Is it the people? Is it the slower pace of life? Is it the food? She realized that, yes, these all defined this special place. But the question, “What is it about the South?” was too profound to be answered with a single voice.
That was it. That was the next book. Wendy, along with her publisher, Lydia Inglett, decided to compile essays from people of note across the South to answer that very question and unite their expressive words with stunning photography descriptive of the Southern region.
The name of the book? “SOUTH: What it means to be here in heart or in spirit.” The title says it all.
SOUTH was officially launched Tuesday, October 7 at a party hosted by Lowcountry Produce. Wendy, excited about the reality of her dream coming true, was all smiles.
“Besides graduating from Clemson and the birth of my two daughters, this day is the proudest of my life. I realized what I wanted to do professionally, amidst some adversity in recent years, and did it,” she said.
Wendy has two daughters, Abbie in sixth grade and Julia in fourth grade at Lowcountry Montessori School.
“Being a good mom to Abbie and Julia is my first priority, always. Watching them see this book come to fruition is more gratifying to me than the book itself. They asked to bring the book to school to show their teachers and friends the day after I received my first copy. At that moment, I received my greatest reward for all of this hard work,” smiles Wendy.
This project was a labor of love for Wendy. She complied it in her spare time while working as the Marketing and Development Director for Friends of Caroline Hospice.
“I can’t thank Friends of Caroline Hospice enough for accommodating my schedule to give me the opportunity to pursue my dream. Without their support, I wouldn’t have been able to complete this project,” explains Wendy. “They are an organization near and dear to my heart and always will be.”
Last April, Wendy went on a trip she called her “Solo Southern Expedition,” meeting many of the contributors to SOUTH. She wanted to shake the hands of the folks who took the time to write meaningful and heartfelt essays about their hometowns.
“Meeting someone through email just isn’t the Southern way,” says Wendy.
In six days, she was in seven states across the South — Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Georgia and back home to South Carolina. It was the trip of her lifetime, and she became even more aware about the South’s beauty, simplicity and grace.
She admits, however, that Beaufort is the most special of them all. Yes, because of the people. Yes, because of the landscape; and yes, because of the climate. But most of all, because it’s home.
Meet the Author at City Java for book signings on the mornings of October 15, 22 and 29, from 7 to 9 a.m., for Wednesdays with Wendy. Or, purchase your book for local pick up by emailing email@example.com. Pick up from the Beaufort Regional Chamber Visitor’s Center, located at the Arsenal, 713 Craven Street, with your paid receipt.