Scary Good News

Sometimes good news jangles as much enlivens us. That’s the kind of news I got a few days ago. A publisher to whom I had submitted a poetry manuscript gave me feedback suggesting some changes and asking me to resubmit. It took me about a week to calm my nerves. But today I am doing exactly as she suggested, making changes, retitling and I plan to resubmit after running the manuscript by a a few friends. It’s scar, because this has always been one of my goals, to publish in fiction and poetry and nonfiction. (Why narrow my dreams?) Oddly, my first writings and my initial publications were in poetry, so it’s strange to me that I first published a novel rather than poems in book form, but, hey, writing is a wild journey, and often unpredictable. One thing I have learned, though, is that when an editor asks you to resubmit, you do it, whatever else you have going on. So here goes. Wish me luck. And what are you doing to get your voice out there?

Study Hall, April 12: When You’re Stuck

Writer’s block isn’t a major issue for me—maybe because I am always struggling to find enough time, what with health issues, family, and activism, to write all the stories going on in my head—but there are times when I know a particular character or plot point needs underpinning, though I can’t quite suss out what’s missing. I have two main methods to address these quandaries. One is to take a relevant workshop with a writer I admire. If I’m having trouble, say, with a particular character, I know that if I take a character framing workshop with a good writer, I will likely hear something that will help me round out the person in question.

I am having trouble with a beloved story that isnt getting quite the juice it requires. I suspect the issue is that my main character isn’t quite “bad” enough to show a really great learning curve in the story. So this month I’ll be taking a workshop on ”The Mighty and Flawed” from a very successful writer, Tommy Dean, author of the fiction books Covenants and Hollow, and editor at ”Fractured Lit.” Tommy is a pretty modest guy, so his workshops are “pay what you want”—irresistible to a senior writer like me. He has a bunch of short workshops coming up this month; check them out at https://www.tommydeanwriter.com .

My other method? It’s a writing prompt exercise I do now and then to spur my subconscious to write what my conscious mind won’t allow.

I’ll post a video of that prompt in a separate posting. In the meanwhile, happy writing to you!

Learning is Everything

 

From the Pinterest Blog. by Murray Library, Words for Readers

 

Sometimes my childhood was tough, marked by poverty, one alcoholic parent, and one who was at times cruel. But my father did one thing for me for which I’ll always be grateful to him: Every Saturday morning he took me to the library. From the time I was a toddler, I would tag along with him.

By age eight I had read every book in the children’s section of our smallish county library (Some multiple times, of course, because Louisa May Alcott and some others were my lifeline for so long.) That fact and my father’s request led the librarian to let me into the adult stacks. What a halcyon moment. I remember with clarity sitting on the floor at the end of a stack with two books that had called to me from the shelves. On my lap, Margot Fonteyn leapt into Swan Lake en pointe, inside a volume about ballerinas. I had never seen anything so lovely, and I stared at her for a long time. On the next page, Maria Tallchief, Cherokee like my great-grandmother, spun in the most exquisite pose. My fingers traced the impossibly tense, yet supple, arc of her spine.

The other book was about something wholly new to me: poetry! The Collected Works of Emily Dickinson thrilled me to chills. Here was someone who saw the world much as I did, even at eight. Minute, endless details of loveliness, heartache, and joy. I wanted to memorize every word, and I very nearly did. That year, I was given the honor of helping the principal put together the spring bulletin board near the front door of our school. “What do you think we should do with it, Glenda?” (Blessings on adults who ask children what they think, rather than constantly direct them.) The words tumbled from my mouth almost before I myself caught their meaning:

There is no Frigate like a Book

To take us Lands away

Nor any Coursers like a Page

Of prancing Poetry –

This Traverse may the poorest take

Without oppress of Toll –

How frugal is the Chariot

That bears the Human Soul –

–Emily Dickinson

Saturday morning still doesn’t feel right unless I head to the Library. Although I’m away from home, I know where the local institution is. I think I’ll amble over there now.

Many thanks to Sophie Maier and Rachel the tech and all my friends at the Louisville Free Library’s Iroquois Branch for a lovely time at my book talk last Saturday.

Glenda at Louisville’s Iroquois Library

 

Greenville’s Best 2: My “Safe Place” Library

Sometimes my family life was a bit tumultuous and frightening. When things were dark, I would start walking in one direction: uptown to the Greenville County Library that used to sit at the head of Main Street. I would get lost there for hours. Most Saturdays, for most of my life, my Dad would take me there, too, if the mills weren’t running and he didn’t have to work. Looking back, I see that this is most of what I gained from my father: the love of reading. And that is a big gift, which has seen me through many hard times since then.

I couldn’t find a photo of that old library. If anyone has one, I’d love to see it. I remember red brick and dark wood and the heavenly smell of the card catalogue.

Years later, in the 1960s, when Jesse Jackson, Jr, sued the Library District for not letting him and other Black people into the stacks––he had come home from the University of Illinois Library and needed to finish a paper––I remember thinking, how could anyone deny anyone a library? I was privileged to be allowed there, and I’m glad everyone is allowed, now.

As a teenager, when my Dad was often working and I had to walk there myself––yes, all the way from the Welcome community––mHughesMain_415aybe five miles?––When I had a few cents I would stop––you know what? I’ll tell you Saturday.

For now, admire the new Hughes Main Library and tell me about your own early reader experiences. See you!

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