This is a membership blog for Professional Members of Georgia Writers Association to share content and link to their other blogs, websites and display events and book links. Only GWA members who have subscribed at the PROFESSIONAL MEMBERSHIP LEVEL can submit content to this SEO enhanced blog.
After four weeks of writing, last night I made the final revisions to my latest short story, Samuel’s Wife. This morning, I sat in my study drinking a cup of coffee, my dog at my feet, my family still asleep, and read the story one last time. When I finished, I held the thirteen sheets of typed, double-spaced paper in my hands and thought of how much time I put into each short story I write. When I say I wrote for four weeks on Samuel’s Wife, I don’t mean I wrote off and on, now and then, a few minutes here and a few minutes there. I wrote eight hours a day at least four days a week while laundry piled up, while dog hair accumulated on the red oriental rug and in the corners of the hardwood floors. While my family slept and went to school and spread straw in the garden and bought groceries and watched television, I was locked in my study creating conflict and struggle between two strong women. My medical appointments were postponed, invitations declined. Many nights, I’d still be researching life in southern Georgia during the 19th century until well after midnight. I studied the Trail of Tears and my own family history involving Indians. Interruptions from the outside world caused me considerable stress. For three days straight I had to drop my writing in order to complete end-of-year reports for a women’s club. If you are a writer reading this, you know how difficult it can be to abandon a manuscript and focus on other projects. When writing, I tend to become reclusive with an urgency to control the door that leads to me. But it is never possible to control events beyond my study. Life goes on and pulls me into it, like it or not.
Samuel’s Wife is written in first person present tense. Some say this is one of the most difficult and limited formats for writing, yet for certain stories I prefer the sense of immediacy that comes from first person present and the distinctive voice it demands from the narrator. The opening line of Samuel’s Wife is “Here comes Bess.” To be sure, I tried retelling the story in first person past and third person past, but the story fell flat.
When I wrote Sleeping on Paul’s Mattress there was no other point of view and tense that would work. It needed a strong voice and first person present pulled the narrator’s anger and hurt to the surface where it pulsed with life. Sleeping on Paul’s Mattress starts with, “From my crouching position under the house, I watch a hearse back into the yard and stop right short of the front porch. It’s late in the day, and the sun is bleeding red across the sky for as far as I can see. Four men with fleshy faces climb out of the hearse, straightening their ties, flipping imaginary hairs from their dark suits. They look like white sugar frosting on a shit-pile if you ask me. You can’t dress up poverty like ours. No, you can’t color our house anything but ugly no matter how many polished shoes walk up its decaying steps.”
I don’t always write in first person present tense. Most of my stories won’t accept that limited format, yet I’ve learned to be true to myself and buck off the rules of writing whenever I need something fresh and alive. By doing so, I often open myself up to criticism, but if I am afraid to plow new ground, then I have no business planting words.
Just a little under a year ago I made a decision I was sure would impact the rest of my life for the better. I was only a year out from graduating college with a degree in English, but I had another passion: weather. I decided that I would finish my English degree and then proceed immediately to Georgia Tech to study Earth and Atmospheric Science. From there I would get a good job working at the Weather Channel and somehow – somehow – find a way to pursue my passion out onto the Great Plains each and every spring for storm season. I was set. I was excited. My future was fresh and promising.
In the midst of my excitement, though, I had to face reality. Quiet evenings which were spent reading Shakespeare one hour and studying physics and calculus the next were often interrupted by ambulance sirens and long stays in the Emergency Room. My mother was ill. She’d never been particularly healthy, but things were getting worse now. She’d always been there for me and I was determined not to leave her side, even if it meant lugging a bag full of books up to the hospital day after day. Finally she told me that she and my stepfather had decided to move back to England so that she could be with the rest of her family.
“Will you go?”
“No.” I answered immediately, looking out at the horizon where a particularly beautiful cumulonimbus cloud was alight with the setting sun. “No I won’t.”
But the thought of being left alone in a country which had never quite felt like home became more than I could bear. And then there was always the writing. Even when I was determined to be a meteorologist I was still adamant that writing would be a large part of my existence. After weeks of soul-searching, I decided that I would always have a passion for the weather, but my passion for the pen and for my family was much stronger, and they were both passions which could be more actively pursued across the pond....
I've decided to start a blog which will chronicle my journey as a college graduate while I try to slide into the professional publishing and writing community. It will follow my escapades from the sticky, kudzu-covered fields of Georgia, to the busy, ruthless streets of London, England. You can follow my blog on wordpress.com, by following the link below.
You can also read the blog here:
A Single Snowflake in the Flurry of Life:...
I have lived at 35 different addresses in my life. 13 of those addresses were before I turned 18. The 22 apartments and houses since then are the legacy of an ex-military dependent who spent the bulk of her childhood moving, saying goodbye, saying hello. My husband, who spent his entire childhood and adolescence in one neighborhood and in one house, is resigned to my relentless restlessness (eight of the 35 moves were with him.)
It’s my belief that the feeling of belonging and travel are not mutually exclusive. I think, to a certain degree, we travel in order to feel like we belong. Not only does travel give you a glimpse of the rest of the world, and therefore a snapshot of your place in it, it also helps you to see that we are all a part of one large human family.
In fact, the expatriate experience—one that you’d typically think of as apart or separate from the collective group—is really a definitive exercise in belonging. Nowhere is the feeling of belonging more strongly felt than when you live abroad and happen upon a fellow American. This could be someone you might not bother to cross the street for back home, yet in this context—say one where they are the only American besides yourself in a room of foreign nationals—they are met with real pleasure and enthusiasm.
Think of all the expatriate clubs and organizations in Paris, for example. First, there are an astounding 165,000 Americans living in France today (50,000 in Paris, alone) so they have no problem getting a taco party together to watch American gridiron or feeling like “they belong.”
Then, of course, there’s the technological revolution and how it’s affected the expatriate. When my husband and I lived overseas—he in the late seventies and me in the mid-eighties—contact with family and friends was expensive and slow. A letter to New Zealand from the States could easily take two weeks to get to me. The phone calls—expensive and infrequent—had serious quality issues, (like a humpback was squatting on the cable that threaded along the ocean floor from Jacksonville, Florida to Auckland, New Zealand.) My husband and I often remark how much easier it would be to live in a foreign country today, with skyping, and the instant gratification of cell phone contact. During the decades that he and I lived overseas, we felt truly and completely separated from our support group of friends and family back home....
Now Professional Members of GWA can add blog pages. You can add a page with a bio, links, pictures, videos and thats it or you can write a regular blog. Either way professional members are getting more exposure for their books and services.
If you want to write a blog (great idea) but do not have much time to maintain a blog - consider recycling old blogs, articles, or columns. Read this great column by Chris Brogan about recycling old content.