One year ago this month, I launched my memoir, “As a Result” when a gathering of close friends and family met at our local Tutto Gelato Cafe for my first official book presentation. I’m still so grateful recalling the support and excitement. Following a journey of late nights, countless revisions and prayers in the parking lot before for each meeting with my editor, the work came to fruition. Prayers like, “Lord, help me accept each correction as a gift. Help me not be too hard on myself. Help me accept the wisdom coming from this team of professionals, even if I don’t quite understand…” Writers on the cusp of publication have to humble themselves–or be humbled. My original manuscript needed HELP!
I began sending out my writing to complete strangers in 2004. From those critiques, I graduated to joining writing groups and submitting countless short stories, poetry and essays for publication. It’s true, the old cliche’ about getting your foot in the door. Small victories led to more and all were a huge boost for this new writer.
Here’s a short list of publications I’ve enjoyed before my memoir ever launched:
3rd grade limerick contest: 1st prize.
There was an old lady from Wheeling.
While playing cards, she loved dealing.
If you didn’t let her deal, how loud she would squeal!
That’s why the lady from Wheeling is dealing.
The next contest I won was when WVWriters sent out an email about a poetry contest. Anyone could participate. You were required to follow a unique poetry pattern after a Sir Walter Raleigh composition, which could be read horizontally or vertically. Here was our sample:
Her face, her tongue, her wit,
So fair, so sweet, so sharp,
First bent, then drew, now hit
Mine eye, mine ear, my heart.
Our daughter Caroline’s mission trip to Nairobi, Kenya, inspired me. She and her team, 410 Bridge, helped build fresh water wells for the villagers. My poem won Grand Prize in the Greater Greenbrier Valley Poetry Contest.
One day, two tribes share dreams
With strength, with sweat, with tears
Hands dig, form wells, forge streams
Heads high, tote water, cast fears.
If you enjoy word puzzles, you might enjoy composing a horizontal/vertical poem.
I look back on the wisdom I gained from taking courses with The Institute of Children’s Literature; Creative Nonfiction at Point Park University; and finding a place for my work in such publications as Heartwood Literary, Morgantown Living and Outside Bozeman Magazines; The Sun Herald and Dominion Post newspapers; Dining Stories (short stories) and Voices From the Attic (poetry) anthologies.
One year after my book launch, I am still composing poetry on a regular basis. Most of my poems are narratives, and in prose form or everyday language. This latest one is a meditative one.
Rewards along the Cheat Lake Trail
I walk and listen.
Notebook in hand,
I observe the slightest
as it kisses the side of my face.
Sand pebbles crunch beneath my boots
on the trail packed tight
by former hikers.
Waterfall trickles down
Cheat Lake’s hillside.
Water meets water
in a mysterious assembly.
The lake, a pool of pewter gray
reflects today’s mood and thick clouds.
Thin trunks of trees in shades of silver birch
and brown maple
against the banks.
One with brown husks the size of walnuts
filled with milkweed cotton;
some covered in iridescent green moss.
More felled by storms.
Some hold seed pods ready to
and be carried off
by the first big gust of wind.
Clouds, heavy in places, mask the gray sky.
A dome of uncertainty,
there’s no opening for the sun.
Lake flow coaxes paper-thin leaves,
once green, now golden brown and cracked coral,
to the water’s edge.
attracts the fish.
Other leaves spread out like a quilt
Granny would have sewn from remnants.
A burnt umber reward
floats with the current,
soft and steady.
It’s got no place else to go.